Jamestown Descendants: Who’s Who, Part 12

Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry continues her series on descendants of the Jamestown settlers, focusing on the lineage of Marion Elizabeth Moncure Duncan (1913-1978), former president general of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.

Today I continue with my “Jamestown Descendants: Who’s Who” series, focusing on the lineage of Marion Elizabeth Moncure Duncan (1913-1978), former president general of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and granddaughter of Mary Butler Washington Conway, a founding member.

Marion’s Jamestown lines include William Byrd, Robert Offley, Rev. William Cotton, William Thoroughgood, Thomas Graves, William Ball, Richard Lee, John George, George Fawdone, Abraham Iverson, Thomas Jordon, and William Corker (see: Jamestowne Society).

Marion, born to Judge Robinson Moncure and Ida Virginia Grigg, married Robert Harris Vernon Duncan in 1939.

She was an avid antique collector, dedicated preservationist, and genealogist. Marion published a 40-generation genealogical volume, House of Moncure. She was a member of the Society of Daughters of the Barons of Runnymede, the Colonial Daughters of the 17th Century, and the Daughters of Colonial Wars.

When Marion announced her candidacy for president general of the NSDAR she was featured in the Washington, D. C., newspaper the Sunday Star, which included a photo of her and the family.

A photo of Marion Duncan and her family, Evening Star newspaper article 4 February 1962
Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 4 February 1962, page 46

The photo caption reads:

Mrs. Robert V. H. Duncan of Alexandria, only announced candidate for president general of the DAR, has a lot of support at home. Here she is surrounded by her husband (rear) and two of her three sons: Bruce (left) and Robinson, a William and Mary College student. (The middle son, Moncure, attends Fishburne Military School.) Their French poodle, Beaumont de Lafayette (called Beau for short), completes the family group. The vase and clock on the mantel are from a three-piece set which was in the White House during the Garfield administration.

An article about Marion Duncan, Evening Star newspaper article 4 February 1962
Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 4 February 1962, page 46

Here are a few of the snippets from the newspaper article that reveal Marion’s life, work, and her DAR history:

Mrs. Robert V. H. Duncan, native Alexandrian who still lives in the “Old Port Town” surrounded by antiques, carries on a triple role – wife and mother, businesswoman, civic and club leader – with an efficiency that is a credit to her Colonial forebears.

In a few months she very likely will be adding a new job to her already heavy schedule.

Candidate for president general of the Daughters of the American Revolution, she is so far unopposed. (The election will take place at the society’s Continental Congress in April.)

Oddly enough, Mrs. Duncan is the only Virginian ever to run for the presidency of the society which reveres so many Virginia patriots.

Photo: Fairfax Arms, also known as the Colchester Inn, a historic inn and tavern located in Colchester, Fairfax County, Virginia. Photo taken in 1959. This was the Duncan family’s second home. Credit: National Park Service; Wikimedia Commons.
Photo: Fairfax Arms, also known as the Colchester Inn, a historic inn and tavern located in Colchester, Fairfax County, Virginia. Photo taken in 1959. This was the Duncan family’s second home. Credit: National Park Service; Wikimedia Commons.

Next, the article covers the Duncan’s summer residence, Fairfax Arms, and the antiques Marion furnished it with:

Summers and weekends they repair to the more historic Fairfax Arms – a one-and-a-half-story frame house, originally the Colchester Inn, built in 1750 on the Occoquan Creek (Bull Run) 19 miles south of Alexandria. (George Mason of Gunston Hall mentioned it in some of his letters and George Washington was one of its patrons.)

Almost unchanged since its construction, this house offers an ideal setting for more of the Duncans’ antiques, including two sleigh beds identical to a pair in the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. (The Duncans acquired these long before the White House put sleigh beds in the news.) [Click here for more on Fairfax Arms.]

Lastly, Marion’s lineage and more on DAR:

Mrs. Duncan is eligible for membership in a number of genealogical societies through the Washington, Ball, Conway, Thoroughgood, and Lee lines. (She belongs to the DAR on a Washington line.)

…The leadership qualities which she [Marion] believes are needed today have always been typical of America, she pointed out.

They include “courage,” “acceptance of responsibility,” “dedication to purpose” and “faith beyond oneself.” “And I think you should add a dash of enthusiasm,” she said.

…A District DAR, Mrs. Ellsworth E. Clark, is her associate candidate for treasurer general.

“Experienced – Loyal – Efficient” is the theme chosen in the presentation of the “Duncan Associates” who, according to their literature, have an aggregate total of 57 years of service on the DAR National Board and 9 years on the executive committee.

Mrs. Duncan, whose own DAR service began in 1932 when, at the age of 18, she was the youngest organizing member of the John Alexander Chapter, also was the youngest Virginia State regent when she was elected in 1950.

She also is the youngest Daughter to seek the office of president general of the National Society.

Since she announced her candidacy, she has attended a number of State conferences in various sections of the country.

In 1916 a Moncure family member, Dr. W. Peyton Moncure, detailed one of Marion’s family lines (and I added more genealogy information) in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

An article about the Moncure family line, Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper article 11 June 1916
Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 11 June 1916, page 38

This article reported:

The first of the family of this name known in America was Rev. John Moncure, who was born in Scotland about 1710, and died in Virginia in 1764. His wife was Frances Brown of Maryland [daughter of Dr. Gustavus Brown and Frances Fowke]. His daughter Jean married James Wood, afterward Governor of Virginia. She is [the] authority for the statement that the [Moncure] family was descended from the first Protestants who left France in consequence of the persecutions that took place soon after the Reformation.

One of Rev. John Moncure’s sons was John Moncure, born in 1756 in Strafford County, Va., who married Anne Conway about 1770. They also had a son, John Moncure, born November 1, 1772, who died August 13, 1822. He married Alice Peachey Gaskins, February 21, 1792.

One of their sons was Judge Richard Cassius Lee Moncure, who was born December 11, 1805, and died August 24, 1882. He was for many years president of the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia. On December 21, 1825, he married Mary Butler Washington Conway, who was related to General George Washington, both through the Ball and Washington families.

Illustration: portrait of Richard Cassius Lee Moncure (1805-1882), Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia (1851–1882). Courtesy of Virginia Appellate Court History, online page.
Illustration: portrait of Richard Cassius Lee Moncure (1805-1882), Justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia (1851–1882). Courtesy of Virginia Appellate Court History, online page.

Mary Butler Washington Conway was the daughter of John Moncure Conway and Catherine Storke Peyton; granddaughter of Valentine Peyton and Mary Washington Butler; and great granddaughter of Bailey Washington and Catherine Storke.

Photo: Mary Butler Washington Conway Moncure (1805-1895), wife of Richard Cassius Lee Moncure. Courtesy of Linda Kathleen Thompson.
Photo: Mary Butler Washington Conway Moncure (1805-1895), wife of Richard Cassius Lee Moncure. Courtesy of Linda Kathleen Thompson.

Mary’s father, John Moncure Conway, was the son of Walker Conway and Anne Moncure, daughter of John Moncure and Francis Brown (noted above); her grandfather, Walker Conway, was a sibling of Anne Conway, who married John Moncure (noted above).

Richard Cassius Lee Moncure and Mary Butler Washington Conway had a daughter, Margaret Elizabeth Moncure, who married her cousin Thomas Jefferson Moncure, son of Virginia Senator William Augustus Moncure and Lucy Anne Gatewood, daughter of Captain James Gatewood who commanded a Virginia company in the War of 1812, and his wife, Anna George.

Marion’s father, John Robinson Moncure, was the son of Thomas Jefferson Moncure and Margaret Elizabeth Moncure, giving her a double line to her Jamestown ancestors.

Stay tuned for more Jamestown descendants!

Note: An online collection of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, is not only a great way to learn about the lives of your ancestors – the old newspaper articles also help you understand American history and the times your ancestors lived in.

Note on the header image: Marion Elizabeth Moncure Duncan, 25th President General, NSDAR (1962–1965). Courtesy of the John Alexander Chapter, NSDAR Alexandria, Virginia.

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