Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/324

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320 Soii/fit'rn Ilislnrii-nl Society Papers.

France," was, by order of the council, naturalized, to enable him to hold land.

The date of the paper was 1640, and was the first paper of natu- ralization ever granted in America. There is in connection with this a singular coincidence. On the Virginia side of the Potomac river, opposite the Semmes property, are some high cliffs, which are called to this day the "Normandy Cliffs," and French Normandy, as every one knows is noted for its cliffs on the seashore. A peculiar fact, too, is that from the beginning of the settlement in Maryland the name of Joseph has gone through every generation of the family.

Many years ago Father Vawhorseigh discovered in an old church in Charles county, Maryland, a strong bound Latin prayer book, with the Mass and Vespers, and all the prayers in Latin. The book had been printed in Belgium. It had in very pale writing the name of Joseph Semmes within, and, pasted in, a steel engraved coat of arms of George Neville, of England, with the motto, " Ne ville

vellis " on it. Mr. Semmes had married a Miss Neville, and be-

neath the marriage date was painted in black, " 1640." Mr. T. J. Semmes' mother was a woman of remarkable intelligence. She was a member of a prominent and wealthy family of Maryland, who had come over with Lord Baltimore, and settled in St. Mary's county, Maryland. His father was Raphael Semmes, uncle of the world- renowned Confederate Admiral, and commander of the Alabama. On the maternal side, Mr. Semmes' family were Welsh-Catholic. His grandfathers were both extensive land owners in Charles county, Maryland.

Speaking of his mother, Mr. Semmes said:

"She was a woman of great variety of information and sweetest culture. Her strength of mind was remarkable, and this wonderful faculty she retained unimpaired up to the ripe age of eighty, when she died. That was seventeen years ago. She was largely instru- mental in the formation of the character of her children, and to her careful training and watchful care they owe much of their success in life. My mother was on terms of personal intimacy with every Pres- ident of the United States, from Monroe to Lincoln, and she had associated with all the distinguished men and women in Washington for the greater part of half a century. This naturally threw her children into the most pleasant surroundings and companionship. I personally remember and knew every President of the United States from the time of Martin Van Buren."