Alphonsus Kirk and Abigail Sharpley

Alphonsus Kirk was born in 1659 in Tollygally, near Lurgan, County Armagh, in northern Ireland, the sixth child of Roger and Elizabeth Kirk.1 Roger and Elizabeth originally lived in “Neshagg” (probably Ness Hagg) near Skelton, the North Riding of Yorkshire, just a few miles from the North Sea.2 They became Quakers around the time that they moved to Ireland. According to the records of Lurgan Meeting, “Roger Kirk and Elizabeth his wife dwelt in Neshag in ye prsh of Skelton and ye County of York. Came to Ireland with his wife and five children in ye yeare 1658 (being a Couper by traide) since wch time he hath dwelt at Tolly gally near Lurgan in ye County of Ardmagh and had by his wife Children as followeth…”3

Roger and Elizabeth were members of Lurgan meeting, the first regular Friends meeting in Ireland.4 Alphonsus and his siblings grew up as double strangers in Armagh – as English and as Quakers. There were other English families in the meeting, including others from Yorkshire: the Calverts, the Hoopes’, the Hollingsworths, the Harlans. They came to Ireland, stayed for a while, then some immigrated to Pennsylvania when it opened up for Quakers in 1682.

In 6th month 1688, Henry Hollingsworth of New Castle County returned to Ireland to marry Lydia Atkinson of County Armagh. Alphonsus signed the marriage certificate, along with Roger Kirk (probably his brother) and Kathreen Kirk (probably the wife of Alphonsus’ brother Timothy). “It is likely that Henry encouraged the Kirks to move to Penn’s colony”, since Alphonsus asked for a certificate of removal from Lurgan meeting a few months later.5

“Whereat, the bearer hereof, Alphonsus Kirk, having an intention to transport himself into the Province of Pennsylvania, in America, at the request of the said Alphonsus, we think it our duty thus to certify concerning him. That he hath lived with his father from his infancy until now, and for aught we know, hath been subject and obsequious to his parents; and since his convincement he hath belonged to our Meetings, and hath behaved himself quiet and honest in his deportment and dealings here, and for anything we do know, or now understand, we having made inquiry concerning him, and he saith himself, is free and clear of all women here, on the account of, or concerning marriage or anything relating thereto. We leave him, and advise him to the measure of the grace of God in his own heart, to which if he would submit, it will teach him to deny all ungodliness.

From our Meeting at John Robinson’s, the 9th of 10th month, 1688.

Robert Hoopes, John Webb, John Robinson, Mark Wright, William Porter, Thomas Wainwright, Timothy Kirk, James Webb, Jonathan Hoopes, William Williams, Robert Kirk, Jacob Robinson, William Cook, Thomas Walker.

Roger and Elizabeth added their own note to it: “This is to certify that we are willing our son, above named, should take this journey herein mentioned; desiring the Lord to be his preserver, and leave him to the disposal of the Almighty. And if it be his fortune to marry, we give our consent, providing, it be with a Friend in unity with Friends, according to the order of truth.”

Alphonsus did immigrate, but not directly to Pennsylvania. He landed in Jamestown, Virginia in 1st month (March) 1688/89 and traveled overland to Christiana Hundred, New Castle County, settling on Brandywine Creek. He was not the only Quaker immigrant from Ireland near there. “About 1687, the brothers George and Michael Harlan, from Parish of Donnahlong, County Down; Thomas Hollingsworth, son of Valentine Hollingsworth; Alphonsus Kirk, from Lurgan, County Armagh; William Gregg, probably from the north of Ireland; William Dixon or Dixson, from Parish of Segoe, County Armagh; and other Friends settled on the west side of Brandywine Creek, in Christiana Hundred, New Castle County, near the present village of Centerville, and became the founders of what later was known as Centre Meeting.”6

It would be five years before Alphonsus married, suggesting that he was not able to support a family until then. Perhaps he was working for someone else to pay the cost of his passage. Finally in 12th month (March) 1692/3 he married Abigail Sharpley under the care of Newark Friends Meeting.7 She was the daughter of Adam Sharpley.8 Abigail had immigrated with her father Adam and his wife Mary, around the fall of 1682.9 In 2nd month 1683 Penn issued a warrant to Ephraim Herman to lay out 300 acres for Adam Sharpley on Shellpot Creek.10 Adam and Mary were active in Newark Meeting; Adam served as a delegate to both quarterly and yearly meetings. Alphonsus was also active in Newark meeting, serving on committees and later donating a piece of land for a meeting house and burial ground, which became Centre Meeting.

Alphonsus and Abigail had eleven children. Four of them died in infancy, three of them within a month in the fall of 1704. Of the children who lived to marry, most married in Quaker meetings, although the son Jonathan married out of meeting and was baptized as an adult.

Alphonsus died in 1745 in Christiana Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware. An inventory of his estate, taken on 23 October, amounted to a meager total of only £31.11 With few farm goods, he may have made his living as a carpenter. Abigail died in 1748.

Children of Alphonsus and Abigail:12

Roger, b. 1694; d. 1761; m. 1726 at Nottingham Joan Bowen. As a young man he was in trouble with Nottingham meeting for wagering on a wrestling match and was probably disowned. He left a will in 1762, naming children Abigail, Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Hannah, Sarah, Rachel, Margaret, John, Sampson, Henry, William, Timothy.13

Elizabeth, b. 1695; m. 1717 Daniel Brown; had at least three children.14

Jonathan, b. 1697; d. 1735; bapt. at age 21 at St. James Church; m. Mary Anderson at Old Swedes Church in 1720, had children James, Elizabeth, Abigail.

Mary, b. 1698; d. 1699.

Deborah, b. Jan. 1699/70; d. 23 Sept. 1704

Abigail, b. 1701; d. 29 Sept. 1704.

Timothy, b. 1704; d. 19 Oct. 1704.

Alphonsus, b. 1705; d. 1731/32; m. 1730 Mary Nichols, widow, at Center meeting house; Alphonsus was a carpenter. They had only one child, a daughter Hannah, before his death.

Adam, b. 1707; d. 1774; m. 9 mo 1744 Phebe Mendenhall, daughter of Benjamin and  Ann, at Kennett Meeting. Phebe was 17 years younger than Adam. They settled in Christiana Hundred, New Castle County, where he died in 1774. In his will he named Phebe and eight living children.15 After his death she married Joseph Pennock, a wealthy farmer. She died in 1818, a full 44 years after Adam. Children: Lydia, Hannah, Adam, Phebe, Abigail, Caleb, Deborah, Elizabeth, Joshua, William.

William, b. 1708; d. 1787; m. (1) in 1733 Mary Buckingham; m. (2) 1754 Sibilla Williams.16 William wrote a will, proved in 1790, naming his wife Sibilla and living children. Children of William and Mary: Caleb, Ruth, Tamer, Hannah, Othniel, Rebecca, Lydia, Mary, Sarah. Children of William and Sibilla: Isaiah, Elizabeth, Joshua, Ruth, Rachel, Adam, William, Sibilla.17 The daughter Rachel wrote a memoir about the family.18 The daughter Tamar moved to Georgia, where she was killed by the Indians, an incident that was an exception to their usually friendly relations with the Quakers.19

Timothy, b. 1711; d. 1786; m. 1734 at Goshen Meeting Sarah Williams. Moved to East Nantmeal, later to Warrington, York County. Sarah died in 1796. Children: Jacob, Alphonsus, Rachel, Adam, Joseph, Thomas, William, Timothy, Sarah, Ezekiel, Jonathan.

  1. Elizabeth’s name is sometimes given as Elizabeth Duck, but there is no evidence for this. A marriage record has not been found for Roger and Elizabeth. A younger Elizabeth Duck married George Harlan in 1678 in Ireland. Alphonsus Kirk and several other Kirks signed their marriage certificate. See the discussion on the message board on, the Kirk surname, Re: Roger & Elizabeth Kirk/Duck/Harlan?? In the end the discussion was inconclusive.
  2. Ness Hagg Farm was probably in Ness Hagg Wood, near the village of Moorsholm. There is a ruined farmhouse in the wood, “very old”. (Post to Ancestry board for North Riding of Yorkshire, 21 April 2004).
  3. Albert Cook Myers, Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania 1682-1750, 1902, p. 322.
  4. Martha J. P. Grundy, website on Kirk family,, accessed May 2019.
  5. Grundy. The text of the certificate is given in Charles Stubbs, Historic-genealogy of the Kirk Family, 1872, p. 233.
  6. Myers, p. 123.
  7. This is the meeting on Shelpot Creek on land donated by Valentine Hollingsworth. It was later called Kennett Meeting and is not in the town of Newark, Delaware.
  8. The known children of Adam Sharpley fall into two clusters, suggesting that he was married twice. The two older children, Rachel and Abigail, were married around the time the two youngest children, the twins Benjamin and Charity, were born. William, disowned for marrying out in 1718/19, was probably born in between the daughters and the twins. With no marriage or birth records, it is impossible to be sure of the parentage.
  9. It is unclear whether Mary was Abigail’s mother or stepmother. There is a wide spread in the birthdates of the children of Adam Sharpley, suggesting the possibility of two wives.
  10. At the same time Herman was to lay out land there for William Lester, suggesting that they may have emigrated together.
  11. Ancestry, Delaware Wills and Probate Records, 1676-1971, New Castle, Register of wills, Kinsler, Christina-Kirkpatrick, Martha, 1880-1884, image 215.
  12. Grundy; Stubbs, pp. 234-236.
  13. Ancestry, Chester County Wills, 1713-1825.
  14. Grundy. Ancestry trees for this couple are wildly contradictory, showing Daniel as marrying again while Elizabeth was still living, with varying numbers of children.
  15. New Castle County wills, Books A-K 1682-1777.
  16. Sibilla was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Davis. Her previous husband was Edward Williams of Pikeland.
  17. Children from Grundy.
  18. Rachel Price, “A history of the early settlers by the name of Kirk”, available online.
  19. Rayner Kelsey, Friends and the Indians, 1917, pp. 75-77.

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