Was Elizabeth Mizell the wife of James Bynum?

This is a claim found in numerous genealogies but there is not a shred of proof.  It appears to be based on a misunderstanding of the records.

There are only four records in which any of the Bynums is associated with any of the Mizells.    All four instances occur within a 12-year period  and all are explainable if we look at them closely.   My guess is that an early researcher looked at the abstracted records and decided that there was a close association between the Mizells and Bynums that could be only be explained by a marriage.  So a marriage was theorized between James Bynum and Elizabeth Mizell.  As with many theories, constant repetition turned it into a “fact.”

However, if we look closely at the records, there is actually a complete lack of any evidence of a connection:

  • There is no association at all between any Bynums and Mizells prior to 1691.  They lived in different parts of the county, were enumerated in different tax districts, and their paths never crossed in any record.
  • The first association between the families is a purchase of land adjoining Luke Mizell Jr. by James Bynum in 1691.   Elizabeth Bynum’s witness of Luke Mizell’s will two years later, and James Bynum’s appointment as an appraiser of the estate can be explained by the fact that they were next-door neighbors.  We don’t need to theorize a marriage to explain those records.  (After all, the other witnesses and appraisers were also neighbors and no one has assumed that they were Luke Bynum’s sons-in-law.)  Note that James Bynum lived next door to Luke Mizell Jr. for less than three years.
  • In fact, those two associations with the Luke Mizell Jr. estate essentially prove the absence of a relationship.  Courts appointed neighbors to appraise estates, but avoided appointing relatives and never appointed appraisers with an interest in the estate.   Furthermore, witnesses to wills could not be persons with an interest in the estate.
  • The only other association between the two families is James Bynum’s purchase in 1703 of land from Luke Mizell III.  Since he was buying land adjoining land he already owned, that makes perfect sense.   Again, we don’t need to theorize a connection to explain that purchase.

In summary,  we have a perfectly reasonable and sufficient explanation for every record.  Bynum and Mizell were neighbors, and that explains every record.   There is no reason to invent a relationship.

In addition, we have some contradictory evidence:

  • Luke Bynum Jr. had an unmarried daughter named Elizabeth form whom he provided in his will.  It stretches credibility to propose that he had two daughters named Elizabeth.
  • Since James Bynujm and Luke Mizell Jr. were roughly the same age, Elizabeth Bynum If she were a Mizell) would more likely have been the sister of Luke Mizell Jr. than his daughter.  (I believe early researchers didn’t realize that Luke Mizell II was only about 33 or so when he died.)  But there is absolutely no evidence that Luke Mizell Sr. had a daughter of any name.  Even if he did, there is no evidence that the Bynums and Mizells even knew one another until twenty years after the death of Luke Bynum Sr.