Peter Dirck and Margaret Keyser

Peter Dirck Keyser was born in 1676 in Amsterdam and came to Pennsylvania with his father as a young boy.  He attended the evening school in Germantown. On Sept 4, 1700 he married Margaret Souplis, daughter of Andreas Souplis and his wife Anneke. Peter wrote in his Bible, “This is to certifiy that on the 4th of September, 1700, I married Margareth Sieplie, aged eighteen years. May the Lord grant us his blessing, and all which will be necessary for us in this world and in the world to come, and we will praise his holy name, now and forever. Amen.”1

Peter was a shoemaker. In 1705 he bought a three-acre tract in Germantown from Cornelis Clausen for £24 10s.2 In 1716 he bought 100 acres of land on the Skippack from John Roeloff van der Werfe in 1716, but he and Margaret and their family stayed in Germantown.  Peter was naturalized in 1709.3 (He had been too young for the 1691 naturalization.)

Peter died in 1724, at a relatively young age, leaving nine children, only two of whom were of age. He wrote his will in August 1724; it was proved in October of that year.4 He left to his “dear and loving wife Margaret” all his estate, unless she remarried, in which case she would get only one-third and the remaining two-thirds would be divided among the surviving children. He specified that if his son Peter “hath a mind to settle on the tract of land at Sippack”, he could have it, making yearly payments to Margaret in produce. Peter was the third son; the two oldest ones may have already had an inheritance portion.

In an interesting stipulation, Peter requested that his wife “shall take all possible care for my old mother-in-law Elizabeth, if she shall be helpless or want some assistance”. Peter’s mother Elizabeth and stepmother Johanna were both dead. Margaret’s mother Anneke was dead by then and her father had married a woman named Gertrude. This is one of the pieces of evidence that Peter’s father Dirck had entered a previously unknown marriage, with a woman named Elizabeth, after his arrival in Pennsylvania as a widower.

The executors were Margaret and her brother Andrew Souplis and Dirck, son of Peter and Margaret. In fact she did marry again, to Michael Eccard of Germantown, and outlived Peter by twenty years. The inventory of Peter’s estate shows that he was a farmer and shoemaker (or cordwainer). This trade was passed down to at least two of his sons. As Wolf put it, in her study of Germantown, “Some of the best established families in certain crafts did maintain themselves through, perhaps, one son. There is usually a … Keyser cordwainer to be found in the records. Yet, by the third generation there are also Keysers, for example, who are masons, house carpenters, yeomen, and just plain ‘laborers’.”5

The inventory included “Books and Book Dets, 10 pounds”, cash, clothes, furniture and kitchen ware , livestock, shoemaker’s and carpenter’s tools, farm implements, a plantation at Scheepack [Skippack], and one hundred acres of land in Germantown with a house on it.  The total came to £375, including £70 for the land in Skippack, £90 for his house and lot in Germantown, £110 for another 100 acres in Germantown.

Children of Peter and Margaret:6

Dirck, b. Sept 26, 1701, d. Jan 8, 1756, m. Alice Neus. Dirck was a cordwainer and tanner like his father. His estate included 370 hides, tanned and untanned, 17 dozen calf skins, and 19 dozen sheepskins.7 Children (named in his will): Alice, Hannah, Elizabeth, John, Peter, Dirck, Michael.8

Andrew, b. July 22, 1703, d. 1776, m. Hannah Lücken.9 He was a blacksmith. They lived in Germantown.10  Children: Jacob, Matthias, William, Mary.11

Peter Dirck, b. July 9, 1705, d. 1756, m. a woman named Susanna12. He was a tanner13. Children (named in his will): Peter, Andrew, Derick, Margaret, Hannah.14 In his will of 1756 he named his wife Susanna and five children.15

Jacob, b. July 1707, m. Margaret, he was a cordwainer. They lived in Germantown. Children: Jacob, Benjamin, Joseph, John.16 Jacob and Margaret were on a list of Mennonites 1770 to 1775.17 He apparently did not leave a will.

Johannes, b. June 25, 1709, d. 1711

Abraham, b. May 26, 1711, d. Dec 30, 1717

Elizabeth, b.  January 20, 1713/14,  d. 1796, m. 1733 Peter Pennepacker, son of Heinrich and Eve. According to Peter Dirck’s entry in the family Bible, she was named for his mother, grandmother, and grandmother-in-law.18 Peter was a miller and farmer; he and Elizabeth owned the property on the Skippack Creek now known as Pennypacker Mills. Children (named in his will): John, Henry, Jacob, William, Margaret, Catherine, Samuel, Elizabeth, Barbara.

Anneke, b. May 23, 1716, d. March 14, 1807, m. John Pennepacker, son of Heinrich and Eve. They lived in Providence township, where John was a miller. Children: Dirck, Henry, Margaret, Elizabeth, Jacob, Catherine, Hannah, Samuel.

Cateleynte, b. Oct 25, 1718, d. 1799, m. Ludovick Horning. They lived in Skippack township. Ludwig died in 1802, leaving a will naming his wife Catherine and eight children.19 Two of the sons, Peter and John, were Loyalists and moved to Ontario.20 Children (named in his will): Peter, Michael, Barbara, Elizabeth, Margaret, John, Elias, Jacob.

John, b. July 25, 1721, m. Barbara Funk; Children: John, Christian, Michael, Charles.21 He was a mason of Germantown.

Margaret, b. Oct 4, 1723, d. after 1744, m. Cornelius Conrads of Cresheim; he was a weaver.

  1. Samuel F. Hotchkin, Ancient and Modern Germantown, 1889.
  2. Philadelphia County Deeds, B3, p.  331.
  3. James Duffin, Acta Germanopolis, 2008.
  4. Philadelphia County wills, Book D, p. 405.
  5. Stephanie G. Wolf, Urban Village, p. 308.
  6. Keyser Family, p. 122. Dirck was named for the father’s father, Andries for the mother’s father, Elizabeth for the father’s mother, and Anneke for the mother’s mother. The children are named in the recital to  a 1763 deed when they signed releases on a tract of land granted to their brother Peter Dirck. In 1763 his son Derrick was conveying the land to Arnold Zimmerman. The occupations and places of residence are from a 1744 deed of release, Book H7, page 24 (Microfilm roll 23, Image 572.)
  7. Wolf.
  8. Cassell in his History of the Mennonites said that the son Peter became a Dunkard. The son John married Elizabeth Rinker, daughter of Jacob Rinker of Germantown in 1752.
  9. Hannah’s last name was from Acta Germanopolis. She died before Andrew, probably in 1762 (various online trees). He did not name her in his will.
  10. Charles S. Keyser, Keyser Family, 1889, p. 143.
  11. He left a will, Philadelphia County book Q, page 236.
  12. Ralph Johnson in his Families of Providence (and also in his Germantown Landmarks) claimed she was a Pennebaker, the daughter of Hendrick and Eve, but she is not to be found in the Pennebaker family. He apparently based this on Peter Dirck calling John Pennebacker his “brother-in-law” in his will. John was married to Anneke Keyser, Peter’s sister, so that is where the relation came from.
  13. The occupations for Jacob, Dirck, Andreas and Peter Dirck were from the Keyser Family, 1889.
  14. In a deed release in 1763 his wife’s name was given as Elizabeth. (Deed, H17, 381, roll 28, Image 319, with a recital of several earlier releases by heirs of Peter Keyser). Since his will of 1756 named her as Susanna, either he married twice or the deed recital was an error.
  15. Philadelphia County wills, Book K, page 466, written and proved 1756.
  16. Some say that his wife was Margaret Kunders, but there is no evidence for this.
  17. Iris Jones, Krefeld Immigrants and their Descendants, vol. 7, p. 69.
  18. Keyser Family, p. 147. Who did he mean by his grandmother-in-law? Does this mean that the mother of Andreas Souplis or his wife Anneke was named Elizabeth?
  19. Montgomery County wills, Book 2, p. 266.
  20. Horning Family History, online at the United Empire Loyalists site.
  21. Children from the Keyser Family.

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