GOSNELL, William & Sarah (Hills)

Cliff McCarthy, 2016
Updated October 2018

William Gosnell was most certainly the immigrant ancestor of the Gosnell line. He first appears in 1684 when 199 acres of “Gosnell’s Adventure” was patented to him. This property was later sold to Morris Baker.

In 1703, William Gosnell signed as a witness to the will of Samuel Greeniff of Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

In 1707, William owned 50 acres of a tract called “Baker’s Increase,” which had been originally surveyed for Morrice Baker in 1667.

The relationship between the Gosnell, Baker, Greeniff, and Hill families has been a point of contention. Chris Bailey posted the following on an Ancestry message board in 2000, which represents the best explanation of the subject:

“A number of us who descend from William Gosnell and his wife Sarah have always believed Sarah was the daughter of Maurice and Elizabeth Baker.

It seems pretty certain now that William Gosnell’s wife Sarah was not Sarah Baker, but Sarah Hills (or Hill), the full sister of Mary Hills (or Hill), daughter of William Hills (or Hill) and his wife Elizabeth. In the past I was unaware of an important land patent which proves that Elizabeth, widow of William Hills, married Maurice Baker about 1670. Her daughter Sarah who married William Gosnell was her daughter by the first husband, not the second.

The above information makes it much clearer why Maurice Baker named only one daughter, Martha Smith, in his will executed in 1700. Mary and Sarah were his stepdaughters, so he had no reason to name them (men rarely gave property to other men’s children). But, when Maurice’s widow Eliza executed her will in 1703, she named ALL her children, her two Hills daughters and five Baker children. I believe it also makes sense that Sarah (Hills) Gosnell was born before 1670 since she was married by about 1688. It is true Sarah named her youngest son Maurice Gosnell, but why not since she had a step-father and half brother named Maurice.

Chris Bailey goes further in clarifying:

“Although it has often been stated, I have never believed that Elizabeth Baker’s maiden name was Greenif. I have no idea what her maiden name was. People have claimed she was the daughter of Samuel Greenif who executed his will Aug. 14, 1703 in Anne Arundel County, MD which was proven Aug. 20, 1703. Samuel’s will made bequests to his brother James Greenif and sister Hannah Greenif, but no other relatives. Although his will makes mention of Sarah Rockhold, Morrice William Baker and James Croutch, no relationship was indicated to any of them. Greenif’s will was proven by Wm. Gosnell, Philip Jones and Robert Capell [or Cassell].

It is true that Samuel “Griniff” witnessed the will of Eliza Baker dated Aug. 10, 1703- just 10 days before his own will was proven. However, Eliza’s will was not proven until the following Nov. 20th, so the chances are strong she was still living when Samuel drew up his will on Aug. 14th (just four days after she did). If Eliza was his daughter, why was she not mentioned? I strongly believe that Samuel Greenif was a bachelor, (or a widower with no heirs) thus his estate went to his brother and sister. There is really no indication that Greenif was anything more than a friend or a neighbor to Eliza Baker, though some sort of relationship to the Hills, Gosnell or Baker families is possible.”

Finally, Chris Bailey finishes with this item:

“I think it is also curious that Sarah Gosnell was married after the death of William Gosnell on Oct. 7, 1710 in All Hallows Parish, Anne Arundel County to a John Rowles (and that is solidly proven by their marriage record and the probate papers of William Gosnell) and that her sister Mary was also married to a John Rowles as her second husband. I note that Philip Jones, Mary Jones and Elizabeth Crouch witnessed the will of William Gosnell, executed May 11, 1709 and proven July 29, 1709 [sic: 1710], so that does indicate a Jones/Hills/Crouch connection. John and Sarah (Hills) Rowles made final accounting of the estate of William Gosnell on Mar. 10, 1712. I have no later record of them.”

William Gosnell, Sr. died in 1709 or 1710. His will was dated 11 May 1709, but was not probated until 29 July 1710, so he must have died between those dates. In his will he left:

” … the plantation whereon I now live unto my three suns, Wm. Gosnell, Peter Gosnell, and Maurice Gosnell so equally divided between them. I give unto my son Wm. Gosnell one gun and one hors I give my son Peter Gosnell one gune and one hors Then I give unto my son Maures Gosnell one Gun and one hors Then I give unto my Daughter Hannah Gosnell one hors — Then I give unto my Daughter Elizabeth Willson five Sheets — Then I Leave my three Sons to be free at the age of Eighteen Years and for all the rest of my estate Be it of what nature so ever I will I would have it equally divided between my four children that is Wm. Gosnell, Peter Gosnell, Maurice Gosnell and Hannah Gosnell and my wife Sarah Gosnell Whom I make and ordaine my Executricks of this my last Will and Testament …”


Children of William & Sarah (Hills) GOSNELL

WILLIAM GOSNELL died Abt. 1710 in Anne Arundel Co., MD.  He married SARAH (HILL) BAKER, daughter of WILLIAM & ELIZABETH HILLS, and widow of MAURICE BAKER. She married (3) JOHN ROWLES  October 1710 in All Hallows Parish, Anne Arundel Co., MD. The Children of WILLIAM GOSNELL and SARAH HILL are:

i.    HANNAH GOSNELL, d. Aft. 1741; m. (1) ROBERT CROSS, 28 November 1712, St. Margaret’s Parish, A.A. Co., MD; d. Bef. 11 December 1720; m. (2) JOHN BUCKINGHAM, JR., 31 January 1719/20, prob. St. Anne’s Parish, A.A. Co., MD; b. 28 October 1700, St. Margaret’s Parish, A.A. Co., MD; d. Bef. 30 April 1741, St. Margaret’s Parish, A.A.Co., MD.
ii.    WILLIAM GOSNELL, JR., d. 1762, Baltimore Co., MD; m. ELIZABETH, Bef. 1752.
iii.    PETER GOSNELL, d. Abt. 1787, Baltimore Co., MD; m. ANNE SHIPLEY.
iv.    MAURICE GOSNELL, m. (1) JULIA BENSON; m. (2) SUSANNA WRIGHT, 29 November 1722, St. Margaret’s Parish, Anne Arundel Co., MD.



  • Barnes, Robert, Baltimore County, Maryland Deed Abstracts, 1659-1750, (Family Line Publications, Westminster, MD, 1996).
  • Barnes, Robert W., Baltimore County Families, 1659 – 1759, Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989.
  • Notes of Chris Bailey, (Message Board posting, 30 July 2000, http://www.Ancestry.com), “Electronic.”
  • Turley, Vincent, Stengele, & Colella, “Baker’s Dozen,” Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin, Vol. 27, No. 2, Spring 1986.
  • Will of William Gosnell (Sr.), (Baltimore Co., MD; dated 22 April 1710, probated 29 July 1710).