Joseph Taylor of Chester County was the son of Abiah Taylor of Didcot, Berkshire, and the grandson of John Taylor.1 Abiah became a Quaker, probably before 1671 when he was absent from services at the church in Didcot. His father John died in 1677, and on his deathbed changed his will, leaving everything to his two children by his second wife and cutting off Abiah with a shilling. Abiah contested the will, but the archdeaconry court found that John was lucid at the time of his death and ruled against Abiah.2
Abiah married a woman named Alice, probably in a Quaker ceremony, and had three known children with her, two sons and a daughter. The daughter, Sarah, married Thomas Hunt.3 The two sons, Joseph and Abiah, both married and immigrated to Chester County.4 It is known when their father Abiah or mother Alice died.
The younger Abiah married Deborah Gearing in 1694 at Faringdon Meeting, Berkshire, and immigrated in 1702. He bought rights to 1000 acres of land from John Tovey while still in England. In 2nd month 1703 the Commissioners of Property granted him a vacant tract “in Consideration of his Sufferings in Comeing into this Place”.5 He settled on the Brandywine and build a mill. In 1708 and 1713 he bought more land.6 He and Deborah were members of the Friends meeting. He died in 1747 in East Bradford township. The inventory of his estate was sparse, suggesting that he was living with one of his children by then.7 Children of Abiah and Deborah were: Ann, Abiah, Alice, Deborah, and Samuel. They married into other Quaker families, mostly at Birmingham Monthly Meeting.8
His brother Joseph apprenticed himself in 1699 to Edward Weston, a carpenter of Harwell near Didcot. Joseph was a grown man by then, not a youth, and probably wanted to learn the skills. The next year he and Elizabeth Haines of Harwell declared their intentions of marriage at the Quaker meetings at Harwell and Blewbury.9 They started their family, having four sons before immigrating to Chester County in 1708. By then Joseph’s apprenticeship would have ended. He must have saved money while working, since in 1711 he bought a tract of 705 acres on Brandywine Creek.10 He later bought more land, eventually owning over 1100 acres. Later in life he divided the land among his sons and became a shopkeeper. When he died his inventory included 12 iron pots, spectacles, buckles, calico, thread, silk bindings, buttons, alum, writing paper, nails and tobacco.11
Joseph and Elizabeth had seven known children, one of whom died young. In March 1732 three of the sons were hauled into Chester County court for rioting. They had apparently gathered, along with ten other youths, and assaulted Jacob Way, beating and abusing him.12 Joseph, Richard and Benjamin Taylor were found guilty, but the verdict was set aside on a technicality.13 Although Joseph and Elizabeth were Quakers several of their children married outside of meeting.
Elizabeth died in 6th mo 1743. Joseph died 3rd mo 1744. Only their three youngest children survived them. In Joseph’s will he named the children of his son Joseph deceased and a son of his son Jeremiah deceased, as well as two living sons and two daughters. All received cash bequests except for the daughter Sarah Jones, who received 26 acres in East Bradford.14
Joseph, b. 1701, d. 1740, m. Catherine. Her last name is unknown; she was the widow of a Baxter. A wheelwright and blacksmith, Joseph died in 1740 in Kennet. He left a will, naming four children and a Baxter stepson. His estate included shares in a copper mine and lead mine.16 Children of Joseph and Catherine: John, Susanna, Elizabeth and Joseph.
Richard, b. 1702, d. 1744. Richard died in 1744 and left a will naming his wife Eleanor, four children and an unborn child.17 His widow Eleanor later married Thomas Huston. Children of Richard and Eleanor: John, Joseph, Sarah and Hannah.
Jeremiah, b. 1704, d. 1732, m. Mary; she later m. a man named Smart. Jeremiah died in Kennett. Administration for his estate was granted in 1732 to his father Joseph. Children of Jeremiah and Mary: Elizabeth, Joseph, Jeremiah.18
John, b. 1705, d. young.
Hannah, b. 1708, d. 1768, m. in 1725 William Temple (son of James and Susanna) at Birmingham Meeting. William died in Kennett in 1775; he left a will naming several children and one grandson. Hannah and William had nine children.
Benjamin, b. 1710, d. 1775, m. Sarah Nookes. They lived in Pennsbury on land conveyed from his father Joseph. Benjamin left a will, naming his wife Sarah and children Isaac, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Hannah and Ann. Sarah survived him and died in 1789. She left a will naming her son Isaac, three daughters and a granddaughter.
Sarah, b. 1711, d. 1775, m. John Jones about 1732. In 1744 Sarah’s father Joseph left her a tract of 26 acres in East Bradford. John and his sons built a mill there.19 John died intestate in 1772; Sarah died in 1775. Only two of their nine children were known to marry as Friends. Children of John and Sarah: William, Edward, John, Benjamin, Hannah, Lydia, Elizabeth, Cordelia, Ann.
- Didcot was historically in northern Berkshire, but is now considered part of Oxfordshire. Gilbert Cope, prominent Chester County genealogist and historian, studied the Taylor family and gathered material about them in his notebooks, preserved at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. He also wrote about them in his History of Chester County, 1881, written with John Smith Futhey. ↩
- The story was told by Didcot historian Brian Lingham, in Long Years of Obscurity: A history of Didcot, volume 1, and is quoted on the family tree of Joel Swink, at: https://www.genealogy.com/ftm/s/w/i/Joel-N-Swink/GENE8-0025.html, accessed July 2019. I have not seen the original will. John’s first wife, the mother of Abiah and his sister Anne, was named Lettice. ↩
- Joel Swink tree. ↩
- Futhey and Cope. ↩
- Minutes of the Board of Property, volume 1, p. 366. ↩
- Futhey and Cope, p. 163. ↩
- Ancestry, Chester County Estate Papers 1714-1838, Wills 1016-1149, images 334-337. ↩
- Futhey and Cope. ↩
- Joseph Taylor material gathered by Gilbert Cope, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Harwell and Blewbury were villages a few miles from Didcot. The existence of two meetings so close together suggests a large Quaker population. ↩
- Taylor material, HSP, gathered by Gilbert Cope. ↩
- Chester County Estate Papers, #892. ↩
- Chester County Quarter sessions, dockets 1723-1733, p. 243, Chester County Archive. ↩
- The verdict was not delivered until the day after the jurors had decided it. This looks suspiciously as if the court was sympathetic to the rioters and looking for an excuse to let them off. The offense of Jacob Way against the community is not known. ↩
- Chester County wills, Book B, p. 162, written and proved in 1744. ↩
- Futhey and Cope. ↩
- Chester County wills, book 2, p. 62. ↩
- Chester Couny wills, book B, p. 171. ↩
- The children are from Ancestry trees, not verified. ↩
- Futhey and Cope. ↩