A Biography of Laurence ONeal, 1733 - 1811

Laurence ONeale was was born about 1733 in Frederick Co. Maryland to William and Eleanor (Ball) ONeale. As a child, Laurence and one of his brothers was sent to the home of their maternal grandfather, Thomas Ball to earn apprenticeships as tailors. Mr. Ball took such a liking to young Laurence that when he became seriously ill in 1748, made his will and left 197 acres of land, known as John of Love to Laurence.  This land was located below Rockville in Montgomery Co., Maryland.

Thus at about 16 years of age, Laurence began an illustrious career as a gentleman landowner and speculator. Ed Twigg wrote, "The earliest pioneers to record land were people like John Perrin, Joseph Flint and Thomas Cresap who were in the western part of the colony as trappers and fur traders with the indians long before anyone else. They were followed by land speculators like Thomas Beall and Lawrence ONeale who made their fortunes by patenting and selling land...."
 Laurence was so successful that when his father died in 1759, he divided his properties up amongst his other sons and left Laurence a horse, he otherwise being so well off.

As a young man Laurence met and married Henrietta Neill, daughter of Charles Neill. There is a Charles Neill on the Rent Rolls in 1738 who was a landowner in the 2nd District of Kent County, Maryland. His property was in Upper Langford Bay Area. Perhaps he was Henrietta's father. From this holy union came four children, two sons and two daughters, namely Henry, John, Mary Ann and Eleanor ONeale. Both Henry and John show up on the Maryland Rent Rolls as landowners, but both had thier lives cut short.

Throughout his life, Laurence was very active. As an adult he managed his plantation, negotiated numerous land deals and raised a family. For many this alone would be a full life, but for Laurence it was just a start.  He served a term as the Sheriff of Frederick County in 1774.  Next he served as Clerk of Courts for Montgmery County, wetting his appetite for politics. In later years he served as a Judge of the Orphans Court in Montgomery County and finally became a member of the House of Delegates of Montgomery County from 1790 to 1796. He attended a Special Session of the house in 1792.

Laurence lived to a ripe old age and died on November 28th, 1811. During his life he accumulated over, 3,000 acres of land in Allegany County alone and there was probably more that haven't been found yet.  In addition he owned 28 slaves in 1800.

In 1817, both Laurence's sons John and Henry died. From the book REBEL ROSE, LIFE OF ROSE ONEAL GREENHOW, CONFEDERATE SPY by Ishbel Ross we learn that Laurence's Son, John was a planter with extensive lands at Port Tobacco.  He was killed in 1817 by his Negro body servant, and his estate was broken up and the family moved to Poolesville.

With no remaining male heirs, Laurence's daughters Eleanor and Mary petitioned the court for a commision to divide their father's properties and ascertain their value. The land was ultimately sold and divided into four shares for the heirs, with a value of over $8,000.oo each.

The lands of Laurence ONeale in Allegany County, at his death consisted of the following parts of tracts: “Tuesdays Work”, 789 acres; “Sugar Tree Flats”, 190 acres; “Resurvey on Meadow”, 258 acres;  “Spaw”, 49 ¾ acres; “Irons Mistake Amended”, 144 ½ acres; “Small Island”, 56 acres; “Surprise”, 183 1/3 acres; “The Gleamings”, 247 Acres; “Prospect”, 166 Acres; “Conclusion”, 740 acres; “Adventure”, 12 acres, “Great Sugar Camp”, 15 ¾ acres;  “Yankee Hall”, 111 ¼ acres; “Maryland Right”, 39 acres; “Little Expected”, 49 acres;  “Fertile Meadow”, 149 acres; “Big Spring”, 266 acres; “Sugar Bottom”, 108 acres; “White Oak Plains”, 78 acres; “Sparking Camp Improved”, 113 acres: “Wednesdays Work”, 74 acres;  “Rich Hollow”, 104 acres:  “Yankey”, 51 acres; “Timber Ridge”, 56 ¾  acres;  “Addition to Small Island”, 25 acres; “The Brothers”, 376 acres; and sundry other tracts and pieces.

1) Maryland State Archives posted on MDGENWEB
2) Archives of Maryland, An Historical List of Public Officials of Maryland, new series, Vol. 1. Annapolis, MD: Maryland State Archives, 1990.
3) Biography of Lawrence ONeal from “Twigg Family Research Pertaining to the Life and Times of Robert and Hannah Twigg” by Jerry Twigg. Contributed for use in USGENWEB Archives by Sharon Banzhoff
4) Donnie Nazelrod donnie@hereintown.net
5) Biography of Lawrence ONeale from "Twigg
6) Land Records posted on USGENWEB compiled by Ed Twigg and members of the Twigg Genealogy Committee.
8) The ONeal Web Site, The Descendants of Joseph ONeal, John W. ONeal, II <http://www.lor.net/johndortco>

Go to page 2