|Member of the Committee of the Twenty|
< 1690 – 1691
|Constituency||Anne Arundel County Maryland|
|Gentleman Justice of the Quorum, later Justice of the (Maryland) Provincial Court|
|Commissioner of Londontown, Commissioner of the Peace, & Colonel, Maryland Provincial Forces|
1683 & 1686
Anne Arundel, Maryland
|Relations||Ancestor of Henry G. Davis|
|Children||Ann Gassaway Watkins (2nd Burgess, 3rd Jones), Captain Nicholas Gassaway, Captain John Gassaway, Jane Gassaway Cotter (2nd Sanders), Lord Sheriff Captain Thomas Gassaway, Margaret Gassaway Larkin, and Hester Gassaway Groce (2nd Warman)|
|Residence||Love’s Neck, Bessondon, Poplar Ridge & Gassaway's Addition Plantations, Anne Arundel, MD|
|Occupation||Plantation owner, provincial military officer, justice and politician|
Colonel Nicholas Gassaway (Baptized 11 March 1634, died between 10 and 27 January 1691 Julian Calendar) was a colonial military and political leader and justice in early Maryland. He is the progenitor of the some five and a half thousand Americans who bear the family name in the 2000 census.
Col. Gassaway is also notable for having settled on "Gassaway" as the family name (also spelled Gasaway, Gasway and Gazaway), a variant of his father Thomas Gaswaie’s family name. The "Gassaway" spelling had already appeared sporadically in England, as in a baptismal record of 1620, and Nicholas's own baptismal record, in the registers of St. Margaret's, Westminster, has "Gasway." Several spellings are used in the records for his siblings. Mary (1622) and Thomas (1628) have "Gaswaie"; Joyce (1626) has "Gasway"; Jane (1636) and Anne (1639) have "Gassaway"; but when Ann dies as a young child, in 1632, her burial record has "Gaswaie.". Sister Hester's baptismal record (1642) has "Gassoway", while a second Anne, baptized in 1644, has "Gaseaway."
Nicholas Gaswaie was born to a Welsh merchant family belonging to St. Margaret's Parish Westminster in London England. He emigrated to the colony as a professional plantation manager around 1650 and settled south of Londontowne, a southerly district of Annapolis Maryland today. Within a decade he was the owner of a sizable tobacco plantation exporting to his Gaswaie family back in England from his dock at the neck of the South River on Chesapeake Bay. He served as an officer in the Maryland Provincial military quickly rising to the rank of Major during skirmishes with local Indigenous peoples. He died one of the largest landholders in the Maryland colony.
Nicholas Gassaway was a politician and jurist in addition to his military role in the colony. He was named a Gentleman Justice of the Quorum while still a Major. He was promoted to Colonel in 1672 and was named as a Commissioner of Londontowne in 1683. He became a Commissioner of the Peace in 1686 and was appointed one of the Committee of Twenty who governed the Maryland Colony pending the arrival of a Royal Governor from late 1689 to 1691. Additionally, he sat as a Justice of the Provincial Court in his final years.
Nicholas’ son Captain Thomas Gassaway, who provided Gassaway land for the Old South River Club and All Hallows Church, would carry on the family tradition of both military and civilian leadership serving as Lord High Sheriff for Anne Arundel County from 1711 through 1714. His son, Captain John Gassaway, in turn served as High Sheriff of Annapolis.
Colonel Nicholas Gassaway was baptized Nicholas Gaswaie at St. Margaret’s Parish Westminster, London, England, 11 March 1634. He was the son of Thomas Gaswaie and Ann Collingwood, who were married there 6 January 1631. He emigrated to North America arriving around 1650.
Nicholas Gassaway married the daughter of Captain Thomas Besson, Anne. She was transported into Maryland by her father Thomas Besson in 1649. Nicholas Gassaway had 7 children including Captain Nicholas (1668–1699), Ann (1670–1742), Hester (1672 – < 1735), John (1674–1697), Jane (1678–1736), Margaret (1680–1724), and Captain Thomas (1683–1739). All of those holding rank followed Colonel Nicholas as officers in the Maryland Provincial Forces.
Three of Colonel Nicholas Gassaway’s great grandchildren continued the tradition of colonial military service as officers in the Maryland Line of the Continental Army. They were Lieutenant Henry Gassaway, Lieutenant Nicholas Gassaway and Captain John Gassaway. Great-great grandson Colonel Gassaway Watkins of Morgan’s riflemen also gained distinction in the revolution and served as President of the Maryland chapter of the prestigious Society of the Cincinnati in which the most direct descendant of each of the four is eligible for membership.
One of many notable descendants of Colonel Nicholas Gassaway is Henry Gassaway Davis, a railroad tycoon from West Virginia who served as Senator from that state (1871–83) and ran for Vice President of the United States in 1904. The town of Gassaway, West Virginia is named after the late Senator.
As of the Census of 2000, there were 5599 persons in the United States named Gassaway, Gasaway, Gasway or Gazaway. Of those roughly 79% were identified as white, 16% African-American, 1% Hispanic and less than 1% Asian-American. While slaves routinely adopted the name of the slaveholding family, there is some indication that some African-Americans descended from Gassaway slaves may also be descended from the Colonel genetically.
Colonel Nicholas Gassaway owned large tracts of land alongside Chesapeake Bay south of modern Annapolis, Maryland. His lands abutted those of the Selby family, Called Selby's Marsh, a part of which was rented to family attorney John Gresham II who built what became known as Gresham house. In 1690, Nicholas’ daughter Jane married the pirate William Cotter who came to own part of Selby's Marsh in 1693 including the rental parcel, but the it was not in the hands of any of Nicholas’ family at the time of his late 1691 death. Their plantation, renamed "Cotter's Desire", passed to their nephew Captain John's three sons and was later sold along with Gresham house to the family of Commodore Isaac Mayo, for whom much of the area is today named. Colonel Nicholas left to his son Captain Nicholas the Love's Neck plantation and his residence there in 1691. Gresham house was owned by Greshams on rented land until sometime after 1723. The wife of Mayo's grandson Thomas Gaither Jr. relocated the gravestone of Captain Nicholas Gassaway (d.1699), found at Gresham house, to St. Anne's sometime before the house passed out of the Mayo family in 1915. In the 1960s, it was discovered that a footstep at Gresham was in fact the downturned grave marker of Colonel Nicholas Gassaway and it too was relocated to St. Anne’s Church in Annapolis. How Colonel Nicholas’ and his son's gravestones came to be at Gresham house and where their remains actually lie is a mystery.
- Cotton, Jane Baldwin (1906). The Maryland Calendar of Wills, Wills from 1685 to 1702, Volume II. Baltimore, Maryland: Kohn & Pollock, Publishers. pp. 48–49.
- US Census Bureau, 2000 United States Census – list of family names
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NGSM-421 : accessed 29 November 2013), Richard Gassaway, 13 April 1620.
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N5WN-F4K : accessed 29 November 2013), Nicholas Gasway, 11 March 1634.
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JWFQ-748 : accessed 29 November 2013), Mary Gaswaie, Aug 1622.
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/JMRM-JZX : accessed 29 November 2013), Thomas Gaswaie, 25 May 1628.
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N5WF-MPT : accessed 29 November 2013), Joyce Gasway, Jan 1626.
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N5WN-W54 : accessed 29 November 2013), Jane Gassaway, 14 September 1636.
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/J791-FM9 : accessed 29 November 2013), Anne Gassaway, 20 March 1639.
- Burke, Arthur Meredyth. Memorials of St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, Comprising the Parish Registers, 1539–1660, and Other Churchwardens' Accounts, 1460–1603. London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, Ltd, 1914, p. 563. Digitised by Internet Archive;https://archive.org/stream/memorialsofstmar00westrich#page/562/mode/2up (accessed 29 November 2013)
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NB3N-ZM9 : accessed 29 November 2013), Hester Gassoway, 26 December 1642
- "England Births and Christenings, 1538–1975," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N5WF-LQL : accessed 29 November 2013), Anne Gaseaway, 21 June 1644.
- Searches of databases available at Familysearch.org for parish registers of Wales (accessed 29 November 2013)do not, however, give evidence of the name.
- Parish records of St. Margaret's Westminster
- Will of Nicholas Gassaway of Ann Arundel County Maryland
- Nicholas's parents were most likely Thomas Gaswaie and "Ann Callendgwood," who married in Jan. 1631, at St. Margaret's, Westminster. "England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/V526-XHC : accessed 29 November 2013), Thomas Caswaie and Ann Callendgwood, 6 January 1631.
- On the family genealogy in 17th-century Maryland, see Ancestry.com. British Roots of Maryland Families, p. 206 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006. Original data: Barnes, Robert W. British Roots of Maryland Families. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2002. This source states that Nicholas Gassaway was probably an indentured servant on arrival in Maryland.
- Rutherford, Mathew and Anna, Genealogical history of our ancestors, Volume 1, 1977
- Pepper, Charles Melville, The life and times of Henry Gassaway Davis, 1823–1916, The Century Company NY NY 1920 P. 4
- Parran, Alice N., Register of Maryland's heraldic families: period from 1634, 1934: Volume 2, Southern Maryland Society Colonial Dames, Baltimore, MD., 1938
- Richardson, Hester Dorcy, Side-lights on Maryland history: with sketches of early Maryland , Williams & Wilkins Company, Baltimore, MD, 1913,Page 319
- Richardson, Hester Dorcy, Side-lights on Maryland history: with sketches of early Maryland , Williams & Wilkins Company, Baltimore, MD, 1913, Page 318
- Hall, Edward Hagaman, Register of the Empire State Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Empire State Society, 1899, Page 212
- Warfield, Joshua Dorsey, The founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland, Kohn & Pollack, Baltimore, MD 1905, P.199
- Richardson, Hester Dorcy, Side-lights on Maryland history: with sketches of early Maryland , Williams & Wilkins Company, Baltimore, MD, 1913, Page 320
- Warfield, Joshua Dorsey, The founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland, Kohn & Pollack, Baltimore, MD 1905, P.171
- Parish records of St. Margaret’s Westminster
- Gassaway, Henry Griffith Jr., Gassaway: a history and genealogy of the descendants of Col Nicholas Gassaway, Birmingham, MI 1935
- Rutherford, Mathew and Anna, Genealogical history of our ancestors, Volume 1, 1977, P.134
- Gibb, Carson. "Supplement to Early Settlers". Supplement to Early Settlers. Maryland State Archives. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Russell, Donna Valley (2002). First Families of Anne Arundel County, Volume II: The Headrights. New Market, Maryland: Catoctin Press. pp. 52–57. ISBN 0914385186.
- Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution , Archives of Maryland Volume 18, Pages 476, 479 483 & 520
- Society of the Cincinnati website at http://www.societyofthecincinnati.org/ retrieved 19 May 2011
- West Virginia Blue Book.Published annually by the Clerk's Office of the West Virginia Senate.
- Baltimore Sun, 18 August 1849, Advertisement for runaway mulatto Gassaway slaves
- Mullins, Caroline, History of Mayo Maryland, Gateway Press, Baltimore, 1996 as summarized at "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 May 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2011. retrieved 19 May 2011
- Warfield, J.D., Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, P.171