River Brenig at Tregaron.

Genealogy and bio: Evan Isaac Shelby of Tregaron, Wales

Evan Isaac Shelby of Tregaron, Wales was the son of David Phillip “Phillip” Shelby (1648-1731) and Margaretta Alexander (1660-    ) and was the one who was honored by future namesakes including Brigadier General Evan Shelby(The original data, images and more on this individual and family are also available on Blythe Genealogy.)

Also believed to have used the nickname ‘Dhu’ (meaning black), he was born about 1694 at the beginning of the reign of William and Mary (1690-1695), and was baptised on September 2, 1694 at St. Caron’s Church in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales.

He was most likely a farmer and/or shepherd in Wales as these occupations were very common in the mountainous region.  Although he would be considered illiterate, he could write his name.

He married Catherina “Catherine” Morgan (1697-1751) on November 9, 1716 in Tregaron, Cardiganshire, Wales and they had 11 children:  Moses Shelby (1718-1776); Brig General Evan S. Shelby Jr. (1720-1794); Rees (Reece) Shelby (1721-1802); Capt. John Shelby (1724-1794); Mary Hannah Shelby (1725-1805); Thomas (James) Shelby (1725-1760); David Shelby (1730-1799); Rachel Shelby (1732-    ); Mary Shelby (1735-1813); Eleanor Shelby (1736-    ); and Solomon Shelby (1738-    ).

Approximately seven years after the succession of George II to the throne, Evan Shelby, then about forty years old, emigrated to America with his family, ultimately settling in Pennsylvania (then Penn’s province).

The “Blunstone License Book” of Lancaster County in the land office in the capital at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, shows that Evan Shelby was licensed on July 4, 1735, to take up three hundred acres in the then Indian owned territory west of the Susquehanna River.  Here the Shelbys settled on a beautiful spot on the east bank of Conococheague Creek on Potomoc Road, at the junction with Muddy Run, naming their farm “Black Walnut Point”.  It was in Lancaster County (now Antrim, Franklin County) “between Neild’s FFRIEND (sic) and Edward Nichols”, five miles north of the Maryland (Mason-Dixon) line,  north of the bridge over the Conococheague.

Two years later he was licensed to acquire an additional 200 hundred acres at Rocky Spring, somewhere near his first tract.

In late 1739, after his home had  been seized to satisfy a debt he owed to a Richard Phillips, he relocated to Maryland, having acquired two warrants for twelve hundred acres in Prince George’s County, in the area which is now the Indian Spring District of Washington County, on June 7, 1739.  One tract, called “Rich Lands” was approximately northwest of the site of Hagerstown and had been owned by Dr. Robert Stuart of Annapolis.

The other, a 1,000 acre tract which he named “Maiden’s Choice”, seems to have been his home plantation. It was a narrow and irregular shaped tract that stretched from the Pennsylvania line southward along the base of the North Mountain three and a half miles.  Evan built a house that was situated at the south end, probably on the road that later connected Clear Springs, Maryland, to Mercerburg, Pennsylvania.

On the 26 Feb 1745, Evan sold 54 acres of “Maiden’s Choice” to his son Evan Jr.

Evan Sr. obtained other land warrants and secured patents on them over the next eleven years, until he was in possession of 2,500 acres.  With the exception of “Rich Lands” and a 50 acre piece called “Hunt’s Cabin”, all of Shelby’s lands seem to have been located between Conococheague Creek and the east side of North Mountain.

He periodically sold some of his land and also gave some as gifts to his sons.   It is recorded in the Testamentary Proceedings on file at Annapolis that  his wife, Catherine, and son, Evan Jr., filed a bond on July 18, 1751, as administrators of his estate. However, since he had conveyed a piece of land to his son John on May 19, 1751, his death must have occurred between those two dates when he was about 56 years old.

He died and was buried at North Mountain, Frederick County (now Washington County), Maryland. His will was probated on July 18, 1751, also at Frederick County.

The Shelby family is identified with the early history of Tennessee and Kentucky, and they share, with the Seviers and Isbells, the honor of having had the greatest number of representatives in the Battle of King’s Mountain. There were seven Seviers, six Isbells and six Shelbys who participated.

By coincidence, the youngest soldiers in that same battle were of the same families: James Sevier, sixteen; William Isbell, fifteen; and David Shelby, seventeen.

Evan Isaac Shelby died intestate and his will was probated July 18, 1751, with his wife Catherine and his son Evan Jr. as Executors.  The record of the naming of Catherine and Evan as Executors for the purposes of probate is as follows (verbatim):

Adm Bond 18 Jul Maryland ss Charles, Absolute Lord and Proprietary of the Province of Maryland and Avalon, Lord Baron of Baltimore, &c, To Catherine Shelby & Evan Shelby Greeting. Whereas Evan Shelby died Intestate, as it is said, We do therefore give and grant unto the said Catherine Shelby and Evan Shelby full power and Authority to Administer all and singular of the Goods, Chattels, and Credits, of the said Deceased: and to exhibit both into our Office for Probate of Wills, &c. Lawfully authorized; touching which Inventory you are presently assigned to perform, or at farthest at or before the 15th Day of October now next ensuing; and an Account within Twelve Months from the Date of these Presents. And lastly, We do hereby constitute and appoint you the said Catherine Shelby & Evan Shelby  Administrators of all and singular the Goods, Chattels, and Credits of the said Deceased. Given at Frederick County this 18 Day of July in the 37th Year of our Dominion, &c. Annoque Domini 1751The Inventory of Evan’s estate did not appear to be very valuable but indicates that he had several slaves. His sons Moses and John signed as next of kin August 6, 1751. James Davies and Isaac Baker signed as witnesses. The sale took place at the home of Evan Shelby Sr. on September 6, 1751.

Later records indicate that the sale did not cover all of Evan’s debts, as by 1754 Catherine and son Evan, Jr. were still being sued for his debts.The following ‘vendue’ was taken from the records of the clerk’s office, Frederick County, Maryland.

His estate inventory was recorded as follows:

First. Whoever buys the value of 20 shillings and upward shall have nine months’ credit; and whosoever buyeth under the value of 20 shillings shall pay before he, or they, shall move any particulars, and the highest bidder shall be the buyer after three distinct crings. The administrators reserve one bidding for themselves at every particular, and if, in case any one should return back any of these goods to the damage or hindrance of said sale, shall pay 2 shillings per pound to said administrators, and that every one shall give sufficient security.signed: Evan Shelby, Jr Catherine Shelby.

Inventory of Evan Shelby Sr 1751 MD Frederick Co Inventory made 6 Aug. A True Inventory of the appeasement of the goods….of Evan Shelby late of Frederick County Deceased in current money so far as the same hat been brought to the Sight and Knowledge of us the appraisers having first Qualified according to the Directions and authority to us Given before Nathaniel Alexander one of the Justices of the Peace for said County the sixth day of August 1751 Imprimis [L=pound s=Sterling d=?] To his Ridding horse saddle & Bridle & his apparel 14L 10s To 6 heads of horses 12L To 10 heads of old hordes mares & colts 24L To 7 cows 14L 10s To 16 young cattle & calves 1 heifer & 1 steer 23L 16s To 24 sheep 4L 10s To 13 head of swine 3L 5s To 25 shoats 2L 10s To household goods 14L 9s 6d To plow & harrow and some old irons 3L 6s 8d To 2 stacks of winter grain 4L To 3 servants George Mercy 10L To Mary Sterling 5L To Ben Knight a mulatto 10L To a blind servant man named John Harvey 9s The above appraised by us as witness our hands James Davies Isaac Baker Signed by the nearest kin: Moses (M) Shelby and John Shelby. Geo. Gorton, Creditor; William Belle Jun Cruder

There is a family story that has been passed down through generations. Although there is no recorded evidence to support any of it, it’s worth mentioning in this post as follows:

It is said that David Phillip (Phillip) Selby was a knight living in a small castle in Cardiganshire, Wales.  He was obliged to support the King of England by sending men to fight when ordered.  The King requested the men and Shelby sent them to Ireland under command of his son Evan.

After the end of the campaign, Evan’s family was disgraced when he returned with an Irish, Roman Catholic bride.  His parents demanded that she be sent back to Ireland and the marriage be annulled. At that time, Protestants could be executed for marrying Catholics.

Evan refused.  He attempted to settle but everyone shunned him – including his parents.  As a result, Evan emigrated to America with his wife and children.

These circumstances are believed to be the reason Evan never named a son for his father Phillip. His mother was Margaretta Alexander and name ‘Margaret’ has been passed down through the descendants for generations.

Tombstone of Evan Dhu Shelby
Tombstone of a later namesake, Evan Dhu Shelby.


There is some dispute about whether the use of the nickname ‘Dhu’ is valid. The baptism record in Wales does not mention ‘Dhu’ at all. However, there are enough other secondary sources that do mention the nickname ‘Dhu’ that I prefer to keep it in my database until there is proof that it indeed was not used. Most of these are written record, but there is a tombstone of a later Evan Shelby for whom the nickname ‘Dhu’ is documented on his tombstone.

The baptism record is the argument used by detractors against the validity of this nickname, but it’s my experience being from a family of French origin where the use of nicknames were rampant, that the nicknames never appeared on birth and baptism records. The nickname only started appearing later when it was assigned by friends and family for a particular reason.

Photo by Aeronian at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

1.  Birth Registration; Shelby, Moses; 1728; Family Data Collection – Births.
2.  US and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900; Shelby, Evan, m. 1778.
3.  Family Data Collection – Births; Shelby, Eleanor; b. 1736.
4.  Family Data Collection – Births; Shelby, Solomon, b. 1738.
5.  Passenger and Immigration Lists Index; Shelby, Evan, 1750; 1500s-1900s.
6.  Passenger and Immigration Lists Index; Shelby, Evan; 1500s-1900s; 1735; Pennsylvania; Source Pub. Code 9448.
7.  Family Data Collection – Individual Records; Shelby, Mary; b. 1735.
8.  Shelby Historical Data (Chronology for Evan Shelby, Jr. and Letitia Cox), online [http://images.google.ca), accessed.
9.  Janet D. Schonert, Chasin’ Shelbys: A Basic Outline of the Descendants of Jonathan, Jacob, Rees Shelby, , Ancestry.com , (http://search.ancestry.com).
10. Soldiers of the American Revolution from Franklin County,  database, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com).
11. History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, 1887; Warner, Beers, and Co.; Chicago; Pg 153 (Little Cove).
12. Inventories (1751-2), No. 48 T.A.S., page 332, at the Land Commissioner’s office, Frederick County, Maryland.