James B Shaw1

#626, (c 1818 - 1889)
Charts5 Generations of Descendants of Charles Bonnycastle (1796-1840)

Life Events

BirthJames B Shaw was born circa 1818 in Ireland.
James was the son of William Shaw and his wife Martha Hamilton. He was 3 years old in the 1821 census for Parish Donacloney in County Down, Ireland.2 
Immigration James and several of his siblings immigrated to the United States in the mid-1830s. The Handbook of Texas noted that he graduated from the University of Dublin but he does not appear in Alumni Dublinenses, which contains details of former students.3,2 
Item. The Republic of Texas government issued stock in “The Consolidated Fund of Texas” with 10% per annum interest due on a five year note. This example dated 4 Nov 1837 at Houston and housed at Southern Methodist University in their Texas currency collection was made out to Charles Bonnycastle and George Tucker (a fellow professor) and signed by the Comptroller of Texas, James B Shaw. Shaw would become Bonnycastle's son-in-law twenty years later.4

Consolidated Fund of Texas note, 1837
Signed by James B Shaw
Made out to Chas Bonnycastle & Geo Tucker
Note.In a letter from Margaret Jane Moore (his sister) dated 1st August 1848 she said that when he had visited them recently that they hardly recognised each other and only one of his sisters Alicia had a faint recollection of him. According to his sister Alicia he was “One of the most influential men in the State next to the Governor”.

During the visit he voiced his concern about his sister’s health and the lack of concern on behalf of his brothers George and Edward towards them. Their poor health could be accounted for by the climate of the Mississippi area where they lived.

According to a letter from his sister Sarah Stigler dated 10th August 1870 she had not heard from him for some considerable time however she had seen a “card” from a James Shaw in Texas who was a candidate for Commissioner of the General Land Office and although there was no ‘B’ in his name, she still believed it was their brother.

From later letters it would appear that correspondence between James and his sisters came to an end and they went their separate ways.

[However, a nephew was one of the executors of James' estate]2 
1850 CensusJames B Shaw appeared on the 1850 Federal Census of Austin, Travis County, Texas, enumerated 20 Sep 1850. He was 30, born in Ireland, occupation Comptroler, and owned real estate valued at $10,000 [this is high].5 
Newspaper Published 15 Jun 1852 in the New York Times.

Mr. James B. Shaw, the Controller of the State of Texas, passed through our city on his way to Washington, for the purpose of receiving one million of dollars, being the amount of the sale of Government bonds, purchased by Corcoran, Riggs & Co. There seems to be a desire on the part of Texas, to spend the ten millions given to her by the Government for her territory, in making railroads and internal improvements, which is certainly the best thing she can do with it.6
MarriageHe married Mary Bonnycastle, daughter of Charles Bonnycastle and Ann Mason Tutt, on 15 Jan 1857 in Washington, D.C.,
The register had no further information.7 
Newspaper Published 19 Jan 1857 in the New York Daily Tribune.

SHAW - BONNYCASTLE -- At Washington City, on Thursday, Jan 15, by the Rev Mr Cummings, Mr James B Shaw of Texas, to Miss Mary Y Bonnycastle, daughter of the late Prof Bonnycastle of the University of Virginia.8
Newspaper Published 30 Jan 1857 in the Richmond Whig.

James B Shaw, of Texas, to Mary, dau of Prof. Bonnycastle of the Univ of Va.1
Note.Shaw had a Greek Revival style house built on 365 acres in West Austin, Texas. It was completed in 1853 but after his wife died he sold it to Texas governor Elisha M Pease. They named the estate Woodlawn. There is a Wikipedia article on Woodlawn.9 
(Widowed) DeathHis wife Mary died on 7 Jul 1859. According to the entry for James in the Handbook of Texas, they had a daughter who died at the age of two, shortly before her mother.10,3  
Gravestone There is a gravestone for Mary in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky. The inscription is: Mary Bonnycastle, wife of James B Shaw, died July 7 1859. On the same stone is inscribed: James B Shaw, died Nov 15 1889, aged 70 years. [Note: there is no entry for Mary's burial in the Cave Hill Cemetery online database]11 
Item. James B Shaw filed a Confederate Application for a Presidential Pardon. Here is the letter he wrote:

Washington City October 24th 1865
To His Excellency.
Andrew Johnson
President of the United States

I respectfully present to you an application for pardon for all offences in connexion with the late Rebellion against the Government of the United States.

I have been a Citizen of Texas from 1837. For Twenty one years up to the year 1859 I was Comptroller of the public finances of that State and I can say with pride that I left an unexceptionable record. I was always a Democrat but never of the Secession school -opposed to secession- and had no part in the movements or political action by which it was brought about. When consummated my sympathies were with the South and I gave some pecuniary assistance in support of the soldiers. This is the only participation in the Rebellion with which I am chargeable. I was in New Orleans in 1862 when captured by the U.S. forces. Gen Butler gave me a passport to go to Europe in condition that I should not return into the rebel states which I have not since done passing much of my time in Europe and in the northern states. I have not since been engaged in trade nor have I in any manner directly or indirectly by my exertions or means aided the Rebellion. I have mourned over the war and earnestly prayed for its close and the restoration of peace. I have never rendered any military service to the so called Confederate Government nor held any office or agency under it nor under any of the States since The Rebellion. I estimate my property in Texas twenty thousand dollars on paper and [the second page was poorly imaged and barely readable so I have not attempted to transcribe it]

The file also contained a sworn statement of loyalty to the United States and two letter of support for the application.12 
1870 CensusJames B Shaw appeared on the 1870 Federal Census at the Exchange Hotel, Galveston, Galveston County, Texas, enumerated 29 Jun 1870. He was 52, born in England, occupation Clerk (Retired).13 
Note.James’s sister, Sarah Stigler who lived in Oak Hall, Lexington, Holmes County, Mississippi wrote to her brother Richard who resided at Dunmurry, Belfast and according to a letter of 10th August 1870 “she had seen a card from a James Shaw in Texas who was a candidate for Commissioner of the General Land Office and although there was no ‘B’ in his name, she still believed it was their brother”.2 
Newspaper In the Galveston Daily News there were several newspaper items that mentioned James B Shaw, a few of which are listed here:

8 April 1874 - a preliminary meeting of the Texas Historical Associaiton was held in Austin. James B Shaw was appointed secretary.

20 April 1875 - he was included in a list of members of the Texas Veterans' Associaiton of Galveston County

4 June 1884 - The following were among the departures by the Missouri Pacific yesterday: [included] James B Shaw, New York City

8 June 1884 - a story naming the first officers of the State of Texas noted that James B Shaw was still alive

2 January 1886 - "Hon James B Shaw, ex-comptroller, returned yesterday from his summer vacation at the North much improved in health"

3 April 1887 - he was an honorary pall-bearer at a Judge's funeral

1 January 1890 - Texas Necrology listing notable deaths in 1889 included James B Shaw in November

3 March 1896 - land from his estate was still being sold.14 
DeathJames died on 15 Nov 1889 in New York City, New York.15
ObituaryHis obituary was published on 20 Nov 1889 in the Galveston Daily News.15

James B Shaw obituary
Galveston Daily News, 20 Nov 1889
James B Shaw estate notice
Galveston Daily News, 28 June 1890
James B Shaw land sale
Galveston Daily News, 1 Dec 1890
James B Shaw land sale
Galveston Daily News, 11 June 1891
Last Edited22 Apr 2014


  1. Index to Marriages & Obituaries, Richmond newspapers, 1736-1982, compiled by Bernard J Henley, Library of Virginia, online at http://eagle.vsla.edu/henley/, Richmond Whig, 30 Jan 1857.
  2. Research done by Will Shaw, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland; e-mail messages to J Kolthammer.
  3. Seymour V. Connor, "SHAW, JAMES B.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsh10), accessed October 09, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
  4. Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library. Image posted online.
  5. 1850 Federal Census for United States, Texas, Travis County, Austin, Roll M432_915, Page 152. Digital image viewed at Ancestry.com.
  6. The New York Times Archives, online http://select.nytimes.com, containing abstracts of articles, with entire article available for a fee , 15 June 1852.
  7. Marriage Records of District of Columbia, 1811-1950. Original records District of Columbia Clerk of the Superior Court. Viewed at Family Search Historic Records & Images Online, James B Shaw & Mary Bonnycastle, 1857, FHL film #2079251.
  8. New York Daily Tribune, Shaw-Bonnycastle marriage announcement, 19 January 1957, page 8. Digitized copy viewed at the Library of Congress site, "Chronicling America."
  9. Website Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org).
  10. Index to Marriages & Obituaries, Richmond newspapers, 1736-1982, compiled by Bernard J Henley, Library of Virginia, online at http://eagle.vsla.edu/henley/, Richmond Whig, 22 July 1859.
  11. Website Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com), Mary Bonnycastle, wife of James Shaw, image of gravestone.
  12. Case Files of Applications From Former Confederates for Presidential Pardons (“Amnesty Papers”) 1865-1867; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1003, 73 rolls); Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Digitized images on Ancestry.com.
  13. 1870 Federal Census for United States, Texas, Galveston County, Galveston Ward 2, Roll M593_1586, Page 196. Digital image viewed at Ancestry.com.
  14. The Galveston Daily News (Texas). Image online at Ancestry.com's historical newspaper collection.
  15. The Galveston Daily News (Texas), James B Shaw obituary, 20 November 1889. Image online at Ancestry.com's historical newspaper collection.
  16. The Galveston Daily News (Texas), 28 June 1890, 1 Dec 1890, 11 June 1891. Image online at Ancestry.com's historical newspaper collection.