Moses Mendenhall and Alice Bowater

Moses was the son of Benjamin Mendenhall and Ann Pennell.1 He was born in 1694 in Concord, Chester County. The Mendenhalls were prominent in Concord meeting and Moses grew up in a strong Quaker tradition. His father was active in the meeting and Moses’ older brother Benjamin later became a traveling Friend, one who visited meetings as an approved minister. Moses would eventually join his brother on a list of Eminent Friends.2 The Mendenhalls were also prosperous. Benjamin was one of the wealthiest landowners in Concord township, surpassed only by his brother-in-law Nathaniel Newlin.3

Alice was the daughter of John and Francis Bowater. Like Moses, she grew up in a strong Quaker tradition. Her grandfather, John Bowater senior, was a minister, imprisoned for his teachings. Her father John had died in 1705 and she probably lived with her mother and four sisters until in 1713 she married Jacob Pyle. Jacob was the son of Robert and Ann Pyle. Robert was a malster who grew barley and processed it into malt for beer-making. He was from Bishops Canning, Wiltshire, the same area as the Mendenhall family (known as Mildenhall in England). The families may have known each other before Robert and Benjamin immigrated. Robert served in the Assembly and in 1698 he proposed that monthly meetings should have the power to free slaves held by Friends, a radical proposal for that time. Jacob and Alice lived in Concord and had two sons before Jacob died in 1717.4 The younger son, James, died before 1719, leaving her with Samuel, who was five years old when she married Moses.

Moses and Alice were married on the 18th of April 1719, at Concord Meeting House.5 The meeting house was built on land sold to the meeting in 1697 by John Mendenhall, Moses’ uncle, for a meeting house and burying ground. A few years after their marriage Moses and Alice moved to Kennett, about twelve miles west of Concord, settling on Brandywine Creek and becoming members of the meeting there.6 He was recommended as a minister in 1726 and was chosen as clerk of the meeting the following year. By then they had four children of their own.

Moses made a will in September 1731, when he was already ailing. His sons Caleb and Moses were each to receive half of the land, as they arrived at age 21. The daughters Alice and Phebe were each to receive £30 at age 18. Alice was to “bring them up and teach them to read and write legiably”, as well as to place Moses as an apprentice when he reached 15.7 Moses died in 9th month (November) 1731. A testimonial to his ministry was written in the minutes of Newark meeting.8

“… in his youth he was religiously inclined, loving the conversation of such and choosing places of retirement to wait upon God. .. As he grew in years he grew in religious experience, and in 1724 appeared in the Ministry: first in a few words, but continuing faithful he increased in his gift, and in time had a Seasonable refreshing testimony, which often affected the minds of the hearers. He visited the meetings in Maryland, New Jersey, and sometimes those near home: being also rightly gifted for the discipline and serviceable therein. … Being sensible in his last sickness that his end was near, he signified ‘He was thankful to the Lord that he was like to be taken from the troubles of this world’, exhorting friends to faithfulness and died in a resigned frame, in the ninth month, 1731, aged about thirty eight years, and a minister about seven years, and was interred in Kennett burying ground.”

Children of Moses and Alice:9

Alice, b. 16th of 2nd mo, 1720, d. 1780, m. 1739 William Pennock at Kennett Mtg, son of Joseph and Mary Pennock of Marlborough Twp10. William died intestate in Marlborough in 10th month 1763. Alice was the administrator for his estate, along with their son Moses.11 Children: Moses, Joseph, Hannah, Phebe, William, Caleb, Samuel, Joshua, Alice.12

Caleb, b. 22nd of 7th mo, 1721, d. 1746, m. Ann Pierce, daughter of Joshua and Ann, in Feb 1742/3 at Concord Mtg. They had sons Moses and Caleb, before the death of the older Caleb in 1746. Ann later married Adam Redd at Kennett Meeting.13

Phebe, b. 2nd of 5th mo, 1724, d. 1818, m. Adam Kirk of Christiana Hundred, son of Alphonsus and Abigail. Adam was born in 1707, quite a bit older than Phebe. They had 10 children. Adam died in 1774, and Phebe married second, in 1778, Joseph Pennock, son of Joseph and Mary.14 Joseph had been previously married, to Sarah Taylor, and he had ten children with her.15 Joseph wrote his will in September 1799, provided for Phebe, “Including all that she hath by virtue of the Will of Adam Kirk”. He named some of his children and grandchildren, and left £200 to Londongrove Meeting for the poor and for a school. Phebe wrote her own will in November 1811, naming her grandson Joseph Pennock as her executor.16

Moses, b. 23rd of 2nd mo. 1727, died unmarried.

Children of Alice and Jacob (surname Pyle):

Samuel, b. 1714, m. Sarah Pringle at Kennett Meeting in 2nd month 1739, lived in  Kennett.17 Possible children: James, Phebe, Jacob.18

James, b. 1716, died before spring 1719.

  1. The Mendenhall family has been thoroughly researched. Henry Beeson published his book, The Mendenhalls, in 1969. An older work by William Mendenhall et al, History, correspondence and pedigrees of the Mendenhalls…, published in 1912, has been largely superceded by more recent research. Gilbert Cope, the eminent Chester County genealogist, gathered materials on the family, some available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The best source for the origins of the family in England is the newsletter of the Mendenhall Family Association, online at The Association has published work by careful researchers who use original sources, including Peter Mendenhall, Dan McEver, Herbert Standing, and Ken Mendenhall. In particular, see the excellent summaries by Ken Mendenhall in issue 3(4) and again in 2010 in volume 17(3).
  2. Anna Watring & F. Edward Wright, Early Church Records of Bucks County, vol. 2, p. 177.
  3. Robert Case, Prosperity and Progress: Concord Township PA 1683-1983, vol. 1, 1983.
  4. Jacob left a will, Chester County Estate Papers 1714-1838 on Ancestry, Wills 1-115, images 370-78, will #58. He provided for Alice and his two sons, Samuel and James. The witnesses were Francis Bowater, Alice’s mother, and Shadrach Scarlett who declared his intentions of marriage with Alice’s sister Phebe in the same month that Jacob wrote the will.
  5. In 5th month 1719 their marriage was reported orderly. (Concord Meeting minutes, Historical Society of Penna, p. 410).
  6. Their certificate was dated 4th 4th month (June) 1722.
  7. Moses’ brother Joseph was the executor. There is no mention of Samuel Pyle in the will. At that time fathers were not expected to provide for their step-children. Presumably the estate of Jacob Pyle provided something for him. When Moses and Alice were married, Alice provided a paper to Concord Meeting about her rights to a third of Jacob’s estate, to be held by Jacob’s father Robert. (Concord Meeting minutes, 6th 5th month 1719)
  8. Quoted in Russel Newlin Abel, Mendenhall-Newlin Alliance, 1989, p. 106.
  9. Henry Hart Beeson, The Mendenhalls, 1969, p. 8, 23-24.
  10. J. Smith Futhey & Gilbert Cope, History of Chester County, 1881, p. 680, for a profile of the Pennock family. Beeson, p. 8, gives a second marriage for Alice after William’s death.
  11. Chester County Estate Papers 1714-1838, on Ancestry, Wills 2031-2146, image 486.
  12. US Quaker Meeting Records 1681-1935, on Ancestry, Chester County, Kennett Mtg, Births and burials 1706-1806, image 8.
  13. Beeson, p. 23.
  14. The Pennocks were a well-off family. The older Joseph was a merchant, who served for years in the Assembly and as a Justice. (Craig Horle & Marianne Wokeck, Lawmaking and Legislators in Penna, vol. 2)
  15. According to H. C. Snyder, only four of those Pennock children lived to marry. (The Pennocks of Primitive Hall, website at, accessed May 2019)
  16. Ancestry, PA Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993, Chester, Will Books N-P, Vol 13-15, 1817-1826, images 31-32. It was proved in April 1818.
  17. Their marriage certificate was signed by Caleb, Alice and Phebe Mendenhall, as close relatives of Samuel. (Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records 1681-1935, Chester County, Kennett Monthly Meeting, Marriages 1718-1821, image 96)
  18. From Ancestry trees, not proven. Note that there was a Samuel Pyle who died in 1750, with a wife Sarah (possibly Sarah Owens) and different children. That Samuel, a physician and a cousin of Jacob Pyle, left a will naming his children. (His WikiTree entry, for Dr. Samuel Bushell Pyle)

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