Adam and Mary Sharpley

Adam Sharpley and his wife Mary emigrated to Pennsylvania around 1682 and settled on Shellpot Creek in northern Delaware. Their origins are unknown. They may have come from Ireland, since they settled near Irish Quakers such as Valentine Hollingsworth, Thomas Conway, Morgan Drewett, and Cornelius Empson, forming the nucleus of Newark monthly meeting.1 Valentine Hollingsworth owned a large tract of almost 1000 acres on Shelpot Creek. He gave a tract to the meeting as a burying place, known as the Newark burying place, after the name of his plantation. Later a meeting house was built there, and the meeting was known as Newark Meeting.2

Adam and Mary probably came in the fall of 1682. In 2nd month 1683 Penn issued a warrant to Ephraim Herman to lay out 300 acres for Adam Sharpley on Shellpot Creek.3 At the same time Herman was to lay out land there for Robert Vanne and William Lester, suggesting that they may have emigrated together. Besides the 300 acres warranted to Adam in 1683, the commissioners of property granted another 100 acres to him in 1694. This land descended to his son William, who sold it in 1717 to Timothy Stedham or Stidham.4

Adam had five known children, born over approximately twenty years. Because of the widely-separated dates, they may be children of two separate wives. The two older daughters, Rachel and Abigail, married between 1686 and 1692 and obviously immigrated with Adam and his then-wife Mary.5 Adam also had a son William, whose birthdate is unknown. He signed the marriage certificate of his sister Abigail in 1693, so he must have been born before 1675 (or earlier), and immigrated with his father. Adam and Mary had twins Benjamin and Charity born in early 1687.6

Adam and Mary were active in Newark Meeting, serving on committees of clearness or relief of the needy. In 1690 Adam was a delegate to the yearly meeting in Burlington; in 1693 he was a delegate to the quarterly meeting.7 He was clearly a trusted leader. In 1690, when Cornelius Empson married his late wife’s sister, he was reprimanded by the men’s and women’s meetings. Adam Sharpley and Valentine Hollingsworth were appointed to meet with him.8 In 5th month 1694 Adam Sharpley was to inquire about the needs of David Richardson. This is Sharpley’s last action for the meeting. He died in 9th month 1694 and was buried at Newark Meeting.

Adam made his will in November 1686, leaving everything to his wife Mary.9 The witnesses were Robert Vance, John Vance, and Thomas Pierson. Robert Vance was probably the Robert “Vanne” whose land was laid out in 1682. Pierson had married to Adam’s daughter Rachel a month a few months earlier.

The will was not probated until 1720, probably when there was some question of land inheritance.

In 2nd month 1696, Andrew Thompson proposed to Salem Meeting to marry Mary Sharpley, widow of Adam.10 The meeting gave him a certificate of clearness, but this proposed marriage might not have happened.11

Children of Adam:

Rachel, b. about 1665, d. 1687, m. 1686 Thomas Pierson the surveyor, buried at Newark. Thomas later married Rose Dixon and had two daughters, Susanna and Rose. Pierson apprenticed as a surveyor in England and arrived in New Castle in 1683. As a deputy surveyor he worked with Isaac Taylor to lay out the circular line dividing New Castle from Chester County.12

Abigail, b. ab. 1670, d. 1748, m. in 1693 Alphonsus Kirk at Newark Monthly Meeting. He was born in County Armagh and immigrated as a young man in 1688. He married Abigail in 12th month 1692/93 and they settled in Christiana Hundred, New Castle County. They had eleven children, most of whom married in Quaker meetings. Alphonsus died in 1745, leaving an estate of only £31.13 Children: Roger, Elizabeth, Jonathan, Mary, Deborah, Abigail, Timothy, Alphonsus, Adam, William, Timothy. Four of the children (Mary, Deborah, Abigail, the first Timothy) died young, the latter three within a month in the fall of 1704.14

William, b. around 1670, disowned by Kennett Mtg in 1718/9 for an irregular marriage.15 There are no records of marriage for William, but he had at least two sons, William and Daniel, who inherited his interest in the land of their grandfather Adam Sharpley. In 1764 they divided the marsh tract with Adam Kirk (a son of Abigail and Alphonsus) and Thomas Gilpin Jr (who claimed in right of Charity Wollaston).16 A Daniel Sharpley, probably this one, died in New Castle in 1788, leaving a brother William.17

Benjamin, a twin, b. 1686/87, no further records.

Charity, a twin, b. 1686/87, d. 1748, m. 1710 William Wollaston at Kennett Monthly Meeting.18 They lived in Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle County, where William died in 1750.19


  1. Albert Cook Myers, Immigration of the Irish Quakers, 1902. A Ralph Sharpley was mentioned in Besse’s Sufferings of the People called Quakers, committed to gaol in Derby in 1659. He later moved to northern Ireland, and influenced some Quakers there to leave the society, weakening the meeting. (Cited in Myers, p. 119) It is possible that Adam was related to this Ralph, but there is no evidence. Martha Grundy discusses Adam and his possible descent from Ralph on her website at, accessed July 2019.
  2. This meeting later became Kennett Meeting. It is not the same as the later meeting in the nearby town of Newark.
  3. Gilbert Cope notebooks, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
  4. New Castle County Land Records, book 5, p. 80, on Ancestry, Delaware Land Records 1677-1947, New Castle County, image 386. In the abstracts of deeds published in 1699 the date is given at 1699.
  5. If Adam did have an earlier wife her name is unknown.
  6. Records of Newark Meeting, available online and in the Gilbert Cope notebooks.
  7. Cope notebooks.
  8. This was a serious offense, but Empson made acknowledgment and was continued as a member of the meeting.
  9. New Castle County wills, book C, p. 207.
  10. Minutes of Salem Monthly Meeting, in Cope notebooks. How did Mary from New Castle County meet Andrew from Salem County? Did they know each other before immigrating? Andrew Thompson was born in County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1676 and immigrated to West Jersey with his parents. His father, also named Andrew, died in 1696. (Thompson Family of Salem)
  11. The Newark meeting has nothing in its minutes about it, and Andrew later married Rebecca Pedrick.
  12. Penn issued a warrant to Taylor and Pierson for the survey in 8th month 1701 (J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope, History of Chester County, 1881, p. 160)
  13. Delaware Wills and Probate Records 1676-1971 on Ancestry, New Castle Register of wills Kinsler-Kirkpartrick, image 215.
  14. Grundy website.
  15. Newark meeting records. He was “laboured with” but refused to give satisfaction to the meeting.
  16. New Castle County deeds, book 9, pp. 58-60, on Ancestry. It is not clear how Gilpin obtained the rights of Charity Wollaston, probably through purchase. He was married to Rebecca Mendenhall, daughter of Benjamin and Ann.
  17. New Castle County wills, book M, p. 333.
  18. Records of Kennet (formerly Newark) meeting, 7th month 1710.
  19. Ancestry trees.

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