George Randall and Rachel Ridge

George Randall lived in Bensalem, Bucks County, in the late 1700s and early 1800s. He worked as a shoemaker and owned only about ten acres of land. George’s parentage is uncertain, although he probably fits into the Randall family that starts with the immigrant Nicholas Randall who owned land in Bucks County starting in 1684. The third generation after Nicholas is not well documented, and George of Bensalem could fit there.1

In April 1791 George Randall of Bensalem bought 1½ acres from Rachel Briggs, widow, adjoining Nicholas Vansant, Thomas Worthington, Abraham Larue, and other land of Rachel Briggs.2 About 1794 George married Rachel Ridge, daughter of Thomas Ridge and Rachel Duncan. There is no known church record for their marriage; they were not married in a Quaker meeting, although Rachel’s Ridge and Duncan families were originally Quaker.

In 1799 and 1800 George was taxed in Bensalem as a shoemaker.3 Bensalem was bustling at the time. There were nine carpenters, suggesting that there was work building houses. There were weavers, tailors and shoemakers, five tavern keepers and three shopkeepers.4 By 1800 George and Rachel had four daughters, and by 1810 they had five daughters and two sons.5 George and Rachel had eight known children in all, seven daughters and a son. One son was George.6 Another son must have died young.7 The daughters all married except one, and most had children. George may not have been wealthy, but he and Rachel successfully married off six daughters. They owned about ten acres in Bensalem at the time of George’s death, adjoining John Tomlinson and Nicholas Vansant. Part of this was the small lot that George bought from Rachel Briggs; the rest was his wife’s share of her father’s estate, conveyed to her in 1710.8 Since this was not sufficient for farming, he made his living as a shoemaker.

The daughters all married except one and most had children. The son George may have been feeble-minded and is not known to have married. The children seem to have been close-knit. One daughter did not marry and lived first with one sister and later with a niece and nephew. The son George was living with one of his sisters in 1850. Two of the sons-in-law served as administrators of the estates of George and Rachel, and one of them bought the land, keeping it in the family.

George died in 1836, leaving no will. His estate was not probated until April 1841, after Rachel died.9 The implication is that the family wanted to keep her in the house, and delayed probate until her death. Evan Groom, husband of Rachel Randall, one of the daughters, served as the administrator. On April 26, 1841, probably just eleven days after Rachel died, Evan came into Bucks County Orphans Court to petition for a sale of the house and lot in Bensalem owned by George, to pay George’s debts.10  Why was Evan in such a hurry to sell the land, and why were George’s debts still unsettled five years after he died? Evan was the wealthiest of the sons-in-law, with land valued at $20,000 in 1860. It is plausible that the debt was actually money he loaned to George, a debt that he did not attempt to collect until the real estate could be sold. It is hard to imagine anyone outside of the family waiting so long for a repayment.

The Orphans Court ruled that the land could be sold, and at the September term Evan reported that he gave public notice and sold the tract of 1 ½ acres in Bensalem, to John Tomlinson for $315, as John was the highest and best bidder. On September 20, the court affirmed the sale.11 On the same day, the inventory was filed, showing a meager value of $10.65, with a bed, kitchenware and other small goods.12 Three years later Evan filed the final estate account, showing real estate tax paid on the $315.13, Book 11, p. 113.]

At the same time that Evan Groom was settling the estate of George Randall, another son-in-law Hazel Scott was settling the estate of Rachel. In the April term 1842, he petitioned the Orphans Court to ratify an agreement he had made with Rachel in 1837, for him to buy a tract of 8¾ acres in Bensalem from her, for $550 and for yearly payments to her. The agreement was made in 1837, but a deed was never signed, and he wanted clear title to the land. She had signed the agreement by mark.14  In the petition to the court Hazel Scott listed her heirs: George Randall, Rachel intermarried with Evan Groom, Mary intermarried with William Tomlinson, Esther intermarried with Joseph Vansant, Elizabeth intermarried with Jesse Mood, Ann intermarried with Elexander S. Rutherford, Grace Randall, Sarah (Hazel’s wife). The account for Rachel’s estate was not filed until February 1848, by the administrator Franklin Vansant. It showed a total of $550.00, the amount that Scott had paid for the land, as her only asset. She must have lived on the yearly payments Scott made to her.

Children of George and Rachel:15

Mary, b. about 1795, m. William Tomlinson, son of John Tomlinson and Sarah Worthington, in 1824.16 They were married by the justice Benjamin Crispin. In 1850 they were living in Bensalem with their children Sarah, age 19, Mary, 17, and John Comly, 14. William was working as a mason.17 George Randall, age 42, an “idiot” was also living with them, probably a younger brother of Mary’s. They were next door to John Tomlinson, his father, and close to Vansant relatives. In 1860 W. W. Tomlinson was living in Bensalem, working as a day laborer, with daughters Sarah and Mary, but his wife was gone.18 Note that William was a mason, like his brother-in-law Hazel Scott. Children: Sarah, Mary, John C.

Grace, b. about 1797, d. 1892, did not marry, lived with relatives.  In 1860 she was living with two widowed sisters, Ann Rutherford and Elizabeth Mood, in Oakford, Southampton, adjoining Bensalem.19 In 1870 she was living with Rachel and Evan Groom, described as a servant.20 In 1880 she was living with Thomas and Rachel Yerkes; Rachel Scott Yerkes was a daughter of Sarah Scott and therefore Grace’s niece. Grace died in 1892 and was buried at William Penn Cemetery.21

Rachel, b. March 1, 1799, d. Aug 4, 1871, m. Evan Groom about 1815. He was the son of John Groom and Phoebe Cooper. Like Rachel, Evan was descended from Quaker families but was no longer a Quaker himself. They lived in Southampton and raised a family of nine children. Evan served in the militia as a young man and was elected to the state legislature to represent Bucks County.  In 1860 Evan’s farm in Southampton was valued at $20,000.22 Rachel died in 1871; Evan died in 1872; they are buried together at William Penn Cemetery.23 Children: Lydia Ann, Warren, Owen, Emaline, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Dr Evan J, Franklin, Ellen.

Elizabeth, b. 1800, d. 1892, married Jesse Mood about 1823. He was a farmer. In 1850 they were living in Southampton, next door to their nephew Warren Groom and his wife Rachel. Jesse died in 1852, and left a will.24 They apparently had no surviving children. In 1860 Elizabeth was living with her two widowed sisters, Grace and Ann, along with two children of Ann’s, Emily and George Rutherford.25 In 1860 Elizabeth and Grace were taxed for a piece of land in Southampton.26 In 1870 Elizabeth was still living with Ann, both living with William Rutherford, a stone mason (another son of Ann).27 In 1880 Elizabeth was living on the Bustleton Pike, Philadelphia County, boarding with Edward and Elizabeth Tomlinson.28 Elizabeth died in 1892 and is buried at William Penn Cemetery.29

Esther, b. 1803, d. 1886, married Joseph Vansant. They were living in Southampton in 1850 with daughters Hannah and Amanda.30 Their nephew William Rutherford, age 9, was living with them. Joseph was a farmer. They were still there from 1860 through 1880.31 In 1870 Joseph was listed as a carpenter. In 1880 they were living with Hannah and Joseph Reyser, probably a granddaughter and her husband. Joseph died in 1882 of “debility”; Esther died in January, 1886. They are buried together at William Penn Cemetery.32 Children:33 Hannah, Amanda, Silas.

Sarah, b. 1805, d. 1888, m. Hazel Scott in 1827. They were married by Isaac Hicks, Justice of the Peace. They were living in Southampton in 1850, where he was a stone mason. Scott is supposed to have done the mason work on the high school in Langhorne with his brother-in-law Evan Groom.34 In 1860 Sarah and Hazel were still in Southampton with some of their children. Hazel was listed as a farmer. Hazel died in 1869 of consumption. By then he was working as a storekeeper.35 The inventory of his estate was taken in July 1869; it showed a horse and wagon, a few household goods not taken by the widow, and other sundries. The balance of his estate was doubtful store bills (might not be recovered) of $176 and the fixtures and goods of the store of $499.36 In 1870 Sarah was living in Southampton with her son George and his wife Louisa. George was listed as a broom manufacturer; maybe he made the brooms that Hazel (and George’s cousin Benjamin Worthington) sold in their store.37 In 1880 she was still in Southampton, boarding with Rachel and Thomas Yerkes, her daughter and son-in-law.38 Her sister Grace was boarding there too. Sarah died in 1888 of pneumonia; she is buried at William Penn with Hazel.39 Children of Hazel and Sarah: Randall, Eveline, Elizabeth, Rachel, Mary Ellen, George40

George, b. about 1808, named in the list of heirs in 1842, no further record. Is he the George Randall, age 42, described as an “idiot”, living with Mary and William Tomlinson in 1850?

Ann, b. ab. 1815, m. Alexander Rutherford. Alexander was named in the list of heirs in 1842 but was probably dead by 1850. By 1860 Ann was widowed, living in Southampton with her widowed sister Elizabeth Mood. In 1870 Ann and Elizabeth were living with Ann’s son William, a stone mason.41 Ann died in 1892, at the age of 78, and was buried at William Penn Cemetery.42 Known children: William, Emily George.43

  1. Normally a man having children born between 1795 and 1815 would be born about 1765 to 1770, marrying around 25 to 30. There is no George in the known Randall family tree born in that time. The only known candidate, as opposed to hypothetical people, is the George, son of John Randall and Elizabeth Shaw, born about 1752. However, he was probably a generation too old to fit here. He may have married Sarah Brooks in 1774 at the Southampton Baptist Church; there are no records of children for George and Sarah. If George does fit into the known Randall family, it is probably as a descendant of George Randall, son of Nicholas and Elizabeth, who married Elizabeth Doane, and married second Mary Comly Harding.With Elizabeth, he had a son John who married Elizabeth Shaw and had a son George, who is probably too old to be the Bensalem man. With Mary, George had two sons: Jacob and George. Little is known of Jacob and George. They each could have had a son George born around 1770. More research will be needed to settle this question, and there may not be any conclusive records.
  2. Rachel Briggs was twice widowed. Born Rachel Walton, she first married William Groom Jr, who died in 1760. The next year she married Edmund Briggs and was disowned by Abington Meeting for the marriage.
  3. Bucks County Tax Records 1782-1860, on Ancestry.
  4. Bucks County tax list 1799, on Ancestry, Image 10.
  5. 1800 census, Bucks County, Bensalem; 1810 census, Bucks County, Bensalem. The numbers and ages of people in the family for 1800 require Elizabeth to be born very soon after the birth of her sister Rachel, and the numbers for 1810 are missing one daughter and include an extra son. It is difficult to interpret these numbers, except to say that George was definitely living in Bensalem at the time and having a family of (mostly) daughters.
  6. 1850 census, when a George Randall, age 42, an “idiot”, was living with Mary Randall and her husband William Tomlinson.
  7. He was in the census of 1810, but not in the list of heirs when George and Rachel died.
  8. Bucks County deeds, book 68, p. 374.
  9. She died on April 15, 1841. (Bucks County Orphans Court record, April 1842,  File #5401, on Ancestry, Image 500-01) George died in 1836 or 1837, according to Orphans Court documents.
  10. Bucks County Orphans Court records, Vol. 10, p. 246, File #5754 (on Ancestry, Image 416)
  11. Bucks County Orphans Court records, Vol. 10, page 285, File #5254 (on Ancestry, Image 438)
  12. Bucks County Estate File #7618.
  13. Bucks County Estate File #7618, Orphans Court File #5256 [sic
  14. Bucks County Orphans Court records, File #5401. The 8¾ acres had been conveyed to her in 1810 by the intermediary Ezra Townsend of Bensalem. (Bucks County deeds, Book 68, p. 374).
  15. These children were named as children of Rachel in an Orphans Court record, when Hazel Scott, the administrator of Rachel’s estate, communicated a rule of the court to his sisters and brothers-in-law.
  16. Sarah was a daughter of Joseph Worthington and Esther Carver, and a granddaughter of John Worthington and Mary Walmsley, the immigrants.
  17. 1850 census, Bucks County, Bensalem, Image 7.
  18. A James Carter, age 32 was living there with two young children; was he a widowed son-in-law?. 1860 census, Bucks County, Bensalem, Image 6.
  19. 1860 census, Bucks County, Southampton, Image 35. Grace’s name was written as Grace Rutherford and her sister Ann as Ann Randall. A user-submitted correction, with which I agree, notes that Grace was actually Grace Randall, “single sister of Ann Randall Rutherford”.
  20. 1850 census, Bucks County, Southampton, Image 1
  21. Pennsylvania Town and Church Records on Ancestry. Grace is not listed in the database of William Penn burials on the USGWArchives.
  22. 1850 census, Bucks County, Southampton, Image 1.
  23. They are buried in Plot C97, along with their son Owen and his wife Rachel. Their son Warren also married a woman named Rachel, but she is buried in plot H122. Burials at William Penn Cemetery, Philadelphia, on for Philadelphia County.
  24. Bucks County wills, #9164. He named his wife but no children.
  25. 1860 census, Southampton, Bucks County, Image 35.
  26. Bucks County tax records 1782-1860, Southampton, on Ancestry, Image 16.
  27. 1870 census, Southampton, Image 35, indexed as Wood.
  28. 1880 census, Philadelphia County, District 461, Image 8.
  29. William Penn Cemetery records on USGWArchives. Her age was given as 92, and the cause of death as old age. She was buried in plot E56, in the same plot as Randall Scott, son of George and Louisa Scott. Hazel and Sarah Scott were in the adjoining plot E57.
  30. 1850 census, Bensalem, Image 1.
  31. 1860 census, Bensalem; 1870 census, Bensalem, Image 61 (indexed as Bedminster); 1880 census Bensalem, Image 8.
  32. William Penn Cemetery records on USGWArchives. They are in plot E27, with their son Silas and his wife Mary. Silas and Mary lived nearby on the boundary of Bensalem and Southampton.
  33. There may be other children as well.
  34. The Langhorne high school reference is from Davis, History of Bucks County.
  35. He was buried in plot E57 at William Penn Cemetery; the record listed him as a storekeeper in Bucks County.
  36. Estate file of Hazel Scott, Bucks County Courthouse.
  37. 1870 census, Southampton, Image 35.
  38. 1880 census, Southampton, Image 15.
  39. William Penn cemetery records.
  40. Randall might be the Randall Scott who died in Somerton in 1898 (Phila. County Death Certificates). Elizabeth married a Tomlinson and died in 1914. George married a woman named Louisa.
  41. 1870 census, Southampton, Image 35.
  42. William Penn Cemetery records. She is in plot D56. Alexander is not there.
  43. There may be other children. These are from census records.

Patrick Malone and Hannah Beale

Patrick Malone was not part of the Quaker immigration of 1682 and 1683; he came late to Bucks County.1 He appears in the Pennsylvania records around 1742, when he was married in Buckingham, Bucks County.2 His wife was Hannah Beale, daughter of Alexander Beale and Sarah Bowman. Patrick and Hannah bought a farm in Buckingham in 1745 near Forest Grove. Forest Grove lay at the intersection of Lower Mountain Road and Forest Grove Road; Patrick’s farm was apparently near the intersection.3

Patrick may not have been a Quaker, although he was surrounded by them in Buckingham. He and Hannah were not married at Buckingham Meeting and the births of their children were not recorded there. Furthermore in 1768 their son John was received by request into membership with Buckingham Meeting, showing that he was not a birthright member.4 If Patrick was not a Quaker he may have immigrated for economic reasons rather than religious persecution. In 1773 Patrick and John were witnesses for the will of Elizabeth Welding; she was Hannah’s aunt.

In his will, dated 1784 and proved 1788, Patrick named his sons John and James, and his daughters Elizabeth, Mary, Hannah, Phebe, and Ann, as well as grandchildren Abner and Sarah Worthington, children of his daughter Sarah deceased. John inherited the plantation of 116 acres and was named executor.5 The others received cash legacies. His wife Hannah had died before him.

The inventory of Patrick’s estate shows a small house, with a front room, back room and “chamber”, and no mention of a barn or outbuildings.6 The front room included the hearth for cooking; the back room and chamber each had a bed. He owned only one mare and two cows, and his estate came to £49.6.8, rather meager for the time.

Children of Patrick and Hannah:

John, b. 1743, d. 18157, m. 1769 Rebecca Good at Buckingham MM. John left a will naming his John and James, daughters Hannah, Alice, Phebe and Rachel.8 Another daughter, the wife of Job Walton, predeceased her father. Rebecca was not mentioned and must have died before her husband. John left the plantation of 117 acres to his son John (the land Patrick had left to John in 1788).

Mary, b. 1745, m. 1765 William Kirk. They lived in Buckingham, where William died in 1821. In his will he named his wife Mary and children Isaac, John and Cynthia. Two others, William and Sarah, died before him.9

Hannah, b. ab. 1747, d. 1811, m. 1774 Benjamin Worthington, son of John Worthington and Mary Walmsley. They were members of Byberry Meeting and lived in Byberry, where Hannah died in 1811 and Benjamin died in 1813. He named all of his living children in his will.10 Children: Mary, Asa, John, James, Benjamin, Mahlon, Hannah, Joshua, Enos, Elizabeth, Martha.

Sarah, b. ab. 1749, d. 3rd month 1777, m. 1774 Joseph Worthington, son of John Worthington and Mary Walmsley. Sarah was Joseph’s second wife; his first wife was Esther Carver. After Sarah died, Joseph married again, to Esther Kimble. He had children with all three of his wives. He owned much land before his death in Buckingham in 1820.

James, b. 1751, d. 1815, Mary Tomlinson. They moved from Horsham Meeting to Goshen Meeting in Chester County in 1799, and lived near West Chester.11 James left a will naming Mary, various nieces and nephews and some Tomlinson relatives. He and Mary apparently had no children.<12

Phebe, b. ab. 1755, d. 1809, m. 1773 John Tomlinson. Phebe was buried at Byberry Meeting in 1809. John died in 1824. They had a large family.

Elizabeth, m. Henry Stirk. They lived in Buckingham and may have had three children.

Ann, b. 1762, m. Samuel Reeder, Buckingham MM in 1792. They may have moved to Ohio.

  1. His origins are not known. His name is Irish, but he does not appear in Albert C. Myers, Immigration of the Irish Quakers into Pennsylvania.
  2. Caroline Worthington in her web gedcom has him born in Bucks County. This is doubtful.
  3. Web page of the Forest Grove Historic District, as of 2019 on
  4. In addition, when William Kirk married Mary Malone in 1765, they were married by a minister and he had to write an acknowledgment to Wrightstown Meeting. (Miranda S. Roberts, Descendants of John Kirk, 1912, p. 47) Patrick and Hannah were witnesses at the wedding of their son John in 1769 at Buckingham Meeting, but this is not evidence since non-Quakers were able to serve as witnesses.
  5. Bucks County wills, book 5, p. 76.
  6. Bucks County probate records, #2148, Bucks County courthouse.
  7. Joseph Comly’s notes; Rebecca died 1813.
  8. Bucks County wills, book 9. p. 57.
  9. Bucks County wills, book 10, p. 50.
  10. Philadelphia County wills, book 4, p. 287.
  11. Comly’s notes on Byberry.
  12. Chester County will book 1814-5.

Thomas Howell of Southampton

Thomas Howell was an early Quaker immigrant to Bucks County who had two known children.1 He was in Pennsylvania by October 1683 when he went to Penn in Philadelphia and requested the rental of 200 acres of land. He actually went twice within two weeks and may have changed his mind about where he wanted to settle. If he arrived in late September 1683, it is possible that he is the Thomas Howell who shipped goods from Bristol on the Comfort of Bristol between 23 May and 6 June.2 People declared goods that were for resale, not personal use. This does not mean that Thomas was intending to be a merchant. Many early settlers brought small quantities of goods to sell or barter. It is clear that Thomas was not a rich man. He rented land instead of buying it, and could not pay the passage for his son.

When Thomas requested his land, he first asked for it in Providence Township, Chester County. Penn wrote a warrant directing that the land be surveyed. Two weeks later Howell went back to Penn and requested land in Philadelphia County near Poquessing Creek, and Penn wrote another warrant.3 The land was laid out in Southampton Township, Bucks County, and was shown there on the map made by Thomas Holme about 1687. Howell’s land was at the southern end of Southampton, just north of the Growdon land in Bensalem.4 At some time before 1697, Thomas gave his land to his son Job, possibly because Thomas was not longer able to farm it.5 By then Thomas owned the land and had gotten a patent for it.6

In 1686 Thomas Howell signed the wedding certificate when his daughter Hannah Howell married William Hibbs at the house of John Hart in Byberry. The record of the marriage kept at Abington Monthly Meeting showed that Hannah was Thomas’ daughter.7 Thomas was not active in Byberry Meeting, unlike his son-in-law William Hibbs. The name of his Thomas’ wife was not known and there is no record of her in Pennsylvania. She did not sign the marriage certificate when Hannah Howell married William Hibbs in 1686, suggesting that she died before then, possibly in England. Thomas died in 1702 and was buried at Byberry Meeting.8

Next generation: Job and Hannah

In 1682 Job Howell immigrated on the Friends Adventure as a servant to John Brock. They arrived in the Delaware River at the end of 7th month 1682. To pay for his passage, Howell was to serve Brock for four years, being free in 7th month 1686.9 In fact he was probably free before then, since in 5th month 1684, a tract of land was surveyed for him, in Bucks County, between Arthur Cook and William Buckman.10This was northeast of his father’s tract, not the same land. In November 1697 Job sold 100 acres of his father’s tract to Hugh Ellis and another 50 acres to Francis Eileston (Elleston).11 In 11th month 1699, William Rowles requested to buy the 200 acres “formerly laid out unto Job Howell upon rent”.12 This was Job’s own land, not the land he got from his father. Was he living on the remaining 50 acres of his father’s land?

Job Howell testified in Bucks County court in 7th mo 1689, in a case of a colt of John Swift. Philip Conway was suspected of having something to do with shooting it, and Job testified that Conway told him he was there when it was shot.13 Philip Conway was not good company to keep. He and his brother Patrick were repeatedly in the courts for theft and were finally banished from the province.14

The 1697 deeds were Job’s last appearance in Bucks County records.15 There is no record of his death, or of marriage or children.

Hannah Hibbs married William Hibbs in 1686. He had immigrated to West Jersey in 1677 on the Kent, as a servant or apprentice. After he married Hannah they lived in Byberry, next to William and John Carver with whom Hibbs feuded over their boundary line. William and Hannah were members of Byberry Meeting, where William signed a paper with other Friends condemning the “spirit of separation” of George Keith and his followers.16 William and Hannah had eight children living at the time he made his will. The will, made in 1708, named his wife Hannah and eight children, Joseph, Jonathan, Jacob, William, Jeremiah, Sarah, Phebe and Hannah.17 He left a Negro man to his wife, and after her death to his sons Joseph and Jonathan. The plantation was shared between Hannah and the son Joseph. The other children received cash payments. William specifically allowed Hannah to raise the children at her discretion. “I leave the whole charge of bringing up my children to my dear wife she doing this according to her own discretion.” The overseers of the will were friends Daniel and William Walton; they were to assist Hannah in managing her financial affairs. Some of the children of Hannah and William married in Quaker meetings; others did not.

Even after William’s death in 1710, Hannah continued a feud he had begun with his Carver neighbors eight years before, over the precise location of the property boundary. Abington Meeting minutes reported that “Whereas there hath been a former difference between John Carver and Widdow Hibbs, about a former line between them; The meeting being willing to put an end to ye sd difference: have appointed Six friends, with two Surveyors to view ye land and ye lines and to endeavor to put an end to ye differ[ence].….”18

In 1712 Hannah married Henry English at Byberry Meeting. He was a widower, a Quaker, and a resident of Byberry.19 Henry and Hannah had no children together, and he died about 1724. He He Hannah died in 1737. In her will she named her children Sarah, Phebe, Jeremiah, Joseph and William, as well as two namesake granddaughters. She gave her sidesaddle to her grandddaughter Hannah Cooper and her “pilers” (pillows?) to her granddaughter Hannah Hibbs. She left her clothing to daughters Sarah and Phebe (the brown gown and petticoat and riding hood and bonnet), her bed and bolster and bedding to Phebe, and residue of property to sons Joseph and William and son-in-law Jonathan Cooper. She specified that her Negro servant Trail should be set free, to have his own mare and scythe and ox, and enough wool to make him a coat and waistcoat and britches.

  1. There were several other Howell families who were Quakers, a few potentially confusable with this Thomas. A different Thomas Howell bought land in West Jersey, came with his family and settled on Gloucester Creek, and died by late 1687, leaving sons Daniel and Mordecai. The sons, along with the widow Katherine, sold off much land in a series of transactions in 1688 through 1691. Daniel ended up in Solebury Township, Bucks County. In his will of 1739 he named a son-in-law Job Howell. This must be a coincidence, since Daniel himself was probably about the same age as Job Howell of Southampton. (Bucks County Wills, book 1, p. 270) Another confusable Howell was John Howell from Budworth, Cheshire, who came on the Endeavor with his wife Mary and daughter Hannah. They settled in Marple Township, Chester County. John’s daughter Hannah married Thomas Taylor.
  2. Peter Coldham, Complete Book of Emigrants 1661-1699; included in Complete Book of Emigrants 1607-1776.
  3. Copied Survey Books, D65-58, p. 115, warrant from Penn to Thomas Holme, the surveyer general, 5 8br (October) 1683, for 200 acres at rent in Chester County; Copied Survey Books, D85-15, p. 29, 26 8br 1683, for 200 acres at rent in Philadelphia County. Of course it is possible that these were two separate men. If so, we are concerned here with the one who settled in Southampton. The land in Southampton was surveyed, and a return made to the office of the surveyor general on 5th mo 1684 (Warrants and Survey Books in the Phila. City Archive).
  4. Howell’s name was missing from the second edition of the map, published about 1697.
  5. Minutes of the Board of Property, 2nd month 1717, in PA Archives, Series 2, vol. 19, p. 612-13.
  6. Minutes of the Board of Property, 2nd month 1717. The minutes gave the date of the patent as 3rd month 1684. A record of this patent has not been found, and it may be the wrong date. In any case, Thomas endorsed the back of the patent, giving the land to his son Job. This is conclusive proof that they were father and son.
  7. Abington Monthly Meeting, minutes 12th month 1686.
  8. Abington Meeting record of births and deaths.
  9.  Philadelphia and Bucks County Register of Arrivals, corrected by Hannah Benner Roach, in Sheppard, Passengers and Ships prior to 1684, 1970.
  10. Copied Survey Book, D68-230, p. 459. Surveyed for Job Howell on 26th 5th month 1684 a tract on rent, between Arthur Cook and William Buckman. Recorded in the Surveyor General’s office in 8th month 1688. It is shown on a map in Copied Survey Book, D67-51, p. 101, between Cook and Buckman. The warrant for the survey was dated two weeks earlier, on 12th 5th month 1684 (D68-465); by 1684 the surveyors were not as overwhelmed as they were in 1682 and 1683.
  11. Minutes of the Board of Property, 2nd month 1717. Three years later Ellis and Elleston sold the 150 acres to Philip Parker, and Job Howell gave a confirmation deed to Park. Book 2, p. 242, image 138. 16 9th mo 1697. Job Howell of Byberry yeoman to Hugh Ellis of Byberry husbandman, for £3 10s, granted a tract of 100A in Bucks County which was part of 200A patented on 28 5th mo 1684. This seems to be a real sale, not a lease, but it includes quitrent to be paid to Henry English. The reason for the quitrent is unclear.
  12. Copied Survey Book, D67-90, p. 179.
  13. Bucks County Court Records to 1700.
  14. See my blog post at:
  15. A 1701 return of survey in Copied Survey Book D71-102, p. 203, refers to land of William Hibbs and Job Howell near Poquessing Creek. This does not mean that Howell was still alive or living on the land. Sometimes information about owners of adjoining land was out of date.
  16. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Minutes 1679-1703, online on Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records, image 170.
  17. Philadelphia County Wills, book C, p. 198. Henry English was one of the witnesses.
  18. Abington Meeting minutes for 3rd month 1709. There is no word about how the matter was settled.
  19. Henry was a son of Joseph English of Nailsworth, Gloucestershire. He may have come at the same time as his father in 1683. (Joseph emigrated with his daughters Mary and Esther, married Joan Comly, widow of Henry Comly in 1685 and died in 1686.) Henry apparently inherited the land in Warminster.  Henry was supposedly a broadweaver. His sister Mary married Giles Knight, who was active in Byberry Meeting. Henry’s first wife, Hannah West, probably died in England. (Comly’s Sketches of the History of Byerry, Memoirs of Gen Soc PA, vol. 2, p. 181. Also in Martindale, History of Byberry & Moreland, heavily based on Isaac Comly’s notes.

Henry Walmsley and Mary Searle

Henry Walmsley was born in northern Lancashire, the son of Thomas Walmsley and Elizabeth Rudd, who were married there in November 1665. By 1682, when Thomas and Elizabeth immigrated to Pennsylvania, they had six children. As was the Quaker custom they asked their monthly meeting at Settle for a certificate to take with them, showing that they were members in good standing. This was normally written by the clerk of the meeting for an individual or one family, but in this case, the clerk wrote out one certificate for the entire group of several interrelated households. This Settle certificate, as it is known, is unusual, and was given because the group intended to travel together and because they were tightly connected by marriage.1 They came on the Lamb of Liverpool. Thomas Walmsley did not declare any goods, but it is said that he intended to set up a mill. He did not live long enough to build his mill. The Lamb was infected with disease, probably smallpox or dysentery, and the Walmsley family was hard-hit, losing daughters Margaret and Rosamund and probably also Mary.2 Some of those who did survive the voyage were ill when they arrived. This was probably true of Thomas, since he died of dysentery within a month after they arrived, leaving Elizabeth with the surviving children.3

When the Lamb landed in Philadelphia in October 1682, most of the Settle group chose to stay together in Bucks County. Thomas Holme’s map of 1687 shows many of them on “Neshameneh Creek”. “Widdow Walmsly” was on the west side of the creek. Her 250 acres on the Neshaminy were patented to her in 5th month (July) 1683. She managed the farm, probably with paid help.4 Finally in 10th month 1684 she probated Thomas’ estate, two years after his death, mostly to ensure the property rights of her children as she prepared to marry again. Letters of administration were granted to Elizabeth, and to her intended husband John Purslow, both of whom signed by mark, and to Nicholas Waln, who signed his name. Waln was keeping some land in trust for her sons Henry and Thomas. In 1686 he conveyed the land to them and brought the releases into court, to be held by Ezra Croasdale in trust until the sons were grown.5

John Purslow, who would become the stepfather of the Walmsley children, was an Irish Quaker who had arrived in 1677 on the Phoenix.6 He acted for the family in 1690 when he petitioned the Orphan’s Court on behalf of his stepson Henry, who was in the service of Nicholas Waln, “against the will of the relations.”7  Henry was about nineteen years old then, so it must have been a very long apprenticeship. By 1693, Henry paid his own taxes in Middletown, showing that he was by then over 21. He married Mary Searle in 1699 at Abington Meeting. Her father Frances Searle was a butcher who accumulated over 1,000 acres of land by the time he died in 1722, and left a solid legacy to his daughter Mary. In 1697 Searle bought a tract of land in Abington, jointly with the maulster John Carver, from the estate of Thomas Terwood. Searle and Carver partitioned this land in 1700, and Searle left his part to his daughter Mary in his will, along with 200 acres in Southampton and 200 acres in Horsham.8

Before Henry could marry Mary he had to satisfy the Middletown Meeting of his good standing. In 12th month 1698 he went before them to condemn his negligence in attending meetings. The following 7th month 1699 he and Mary announced their intention to marry. There were continuing concerns about Henry’s behavior, and the meeting appointed William Paxson and Thomas Harding to inquire. The following month Henry condemned his “remissness” and the marriage was allowed to proceed.9

They settled in Bensalem, and had a family of two sons and seven daughters.10 Both Henry and Mary lived to see all but one of them married. Although four of the daughters married sons from Quaker families like Walton and Carver, they did not all marry under auspices of a meeting and the youngest daughter, Grace, married Benjamin Herbert at Christ Church. This is somewhat surprising, since prosperous families were usually able to keep their children within the society in this early time.

Henry was still remembered several generations later. “He was above the middle size of men, and was a jovial, comical sort of person. He did not inherit much property from his father, and never became so wealthy as his brother Thomas.”11 Mary died in 1747, the year after the youngest child was married. Henry lived on to 1759, and was named in Henry Tomlinson’s list of “aged persons” as 88 years old.12 He did not leave a will, and letters of administration were granted on his estate to his sons Frances and Thomas and son-in-law Thomas Tomlinson.13 He left a tract of 220 acres in Bensalem, and after his death the seven married daughters sold their share of the land to their brothers Frances and Thomas.14 They were all living near Bensalem at the time of the deed, except for William Carver, Elizabeth’s husband, who died earlier that year.

Children of Henry Walmsley and Mary Searle:

Joan, b. 1702, d. 1772, married Thomas Tomlinson. They lived in Bensalem, where Thomas died in 1764. In his will he named Joan, sons Thomas, Joseph, Henry, and Francis, and daughters Elizabeth and Mary.15 Joan was to have the “stone room at the west end of the dwelling house” with its furniture, while the son Thomas received the plantation and the others got cash legacies.

Elizabeth, d. 1772, m. 1719 William Carver, son of William and Mary, settled at Buckingham. William died in early 1759. Children: Joseph, William, Jacob, Elizabeth, Henry, Rebecca, Mary, Martha. Elizabeth died in Warwick Township in 1772, and in her will named all the children except Jacob, plus three Worthington grandchildren.16 She was living with her son-in-law Isaac Worthington, and mentioned that he had supported her in a “tender and affectionate manner”. He was also the executor.

Mary, b. 1704, d. 1795, m. about 1725 William Ridge, who immigrated to Pennsylvania and settled in Bensalem, Bucks County. Children: Thomas, Grace, William, Mary, Henry. William died in 1776. Mary outlived William him by twenty years, and died in 1795, age 91.17

Thomas, b. 1706, d. 1788. He married and left children.18 His wife’s name is sometimes said to be Ruth, but this may be a confusion.19 Thomas died in Southampton in August 1788, “near 80 years”.20 In his will he named a son Henry, daughter Margaret, son Ralph, daughter Mary Reed, and two granddaughters, and left land in both Southampton and Bensalem.21

Rebecca, m. 1731 Abel Walton, son of William and Sarah. They were married at Abington Meeting in 1731. They lived in Somerton, Philadelphia County, where Abel died in 1771. Rebecca administered his estate, which amounted to only £27 when the inventory was taken.22 Children: William, Mary, Abel, Henry.23

Francis, named for his grandfather, died unmarried in 1760, probably in Bensalem.

Sarah, d. 1787, m. William Kinsey. Sarah died in 10th month 1787.24 They were living in Bristol Township in 1759, when they received a legacy from Sarah’s father Henry.25

Ann, m. John Waters, living in Bensalem in 1759. John was probably not a Friend, as they do not appear in Quaker records.

Grace, m. 1746 at Christ Church, Benjamin Herbert, living in Bensalem in 175926. Herbert was supposedly from Harford County, Maryland, and he and Grace moved there and had six children.27


  1. William Davis, History of Bucks County.
  2. The children who were known to survive were Henry, Thomas (married Mary Paxson), and Elizabeth (married William Homer).
  3. Middletown Monthly Meeting recorded his death as 11th day 10th month 1682. Since the meeting recorded it, he and Elizabeth must have been members of the meeting, showing that they settled in Bucks County right away, instead of staying in Burlington as some have suggested.
  4. Four of the women of the Settle group lost their husbands within months of their arrival. Nicholas Waln, who was literate and of mature age, became the unofficial leader of the Settle group. He took in an apprentice, witnessed wills, and acted as trustee for property.
  5. He conveyed 150 acres to Henry and 100 to Thomas. (Minutes of the Board of Property)
  6. Walter Sheppard, Passengers and ships prior to 1684.
  7. Bucks County Orphans Court, file #23, March 1690.
  8. Mary and her husband Henry Walmsley, along with her brother Arthur, later conveyed the Abington land to Abraham Tyson. Frances Searle also left 300 acres in Bensalem to his son Arthur; apparently the other son Thomas was already settled on a tract. Arthur was also a maulster; perhaps he apprenticed with John Carver.
  9. Middletown Monthly Meeting, men’s minutes.
  10. Henry and Mary named their first two daughters for their mothers, and their first two sons for their fathers.
  11. Joseph Martindale, History of Byberry and Moreland.
  12. Henry Tomlinson’s book of deaths 1736-1800, in Byberry Monthly Meeting, Deaths 1736-1823, in Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records, Philadelphia County, image 15; also in Samuel Hazard, Register of Pennsylvania, vol. 7.
  13. Bucks County estate file #997.
  14. Bucks County Deeds, book 10, p. 347, May 10, 1759. The daughters were Elizabeth Carver, widow of William Carver Jr; Joan Tomlinson and her husband Thomas; Mary Ridge and her husband William; Ann Waters and her husband John; Grace Herbert and her husband Benjamin (all of Bensalem); Sarah Kinsey and her husband William, of Bristol Township; Rebecca Walton and her husband Abel, of Philadelphia County.
  15. Bucks County wills, book 3, p. 115, online on FamilySearch, vol. 3-4, image 76.
  16. Bucks County wills, book 3, p. 258, online at FamilySearch, vol. 3-4, image 153.
  17. Henry Tomlinson’s list of deaths, in Byberry Monthly Meeting, Deaths 1736-1823, image 15; also in Samuel Hazard, Register of Pennsylvania, vol. 7. The online catalog of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania called it “Deaths and burials taken from Henry Tomlinson’s Book of Records, 1736-1800”. (Cf. FN 24)
  18. He named his second son Ralph. There were not many Ralphs around then. One candidate is Ralph Draycott, who bought land on Neshaminy Creek from Henry and Thomas Sr in 1704, but he did not name a Walmsley daughter in his will, so he can probably be ruled out.
  19. There was a Ruth, daughter of Solomon Miller, who married Thomas Walmsley and died in 1798, but she was born in 1752. She was a minister among Friends. (Byberry Meeting Membership List 1797, image 31; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 9th month 1798, Minutes 1719-1807, image 335. The yellow fever was raging at the time of her death, at least in the city.)
  20. Byberry Deaths 1736-1823, image 12, probably from Henry Tomlinson’s records.
  21. Bucks County Wills, book 5, p. 213-215. Henry filed a caveat, and the granddaughter Sarah Reed took Henry to court over a payment he had failed to make her, but in the end the will was proved and she was the executor.
  22. PA Wills and Probate Records 1683-1993, on Ancestry, Philadelphia Administration Files No 59-98, 220, 1-21, 1772-1773, image 226.
  23. Norman Swain, Byberry Waltons, p. 27.
  24. Byberry Preparative Meeting, Births and Deaths, image 51. The record said “Sarah Kinney, daughter of Henry Walmsley”. Another copy of the deaths gives her name as “Sarah Kinsey”, Byberry Monthly Meeting, Deaths 1736-1823. That copy is probably is Henry Tomlinson’s handwriting, while the other one is a copy, made by a clerk of the meeting who wanted Tomlinson’s records to be noted in their records. The Sarah Kinsey buried at Buckingham Friends in 1787 seems to be a different person. (Findagrave)
  25. Bucks County Deeds, book He did not leave a will in either Bucks or Philadelphia County.
  26. Married with a license, granted May 1746. (PA Compiled Marriage Records 1700-1821, on Ancestry).
  27. Website of Brent Glad. But Herbert was supposed to have lived until 1818, a suspiciously long lifespan for him.

Francis and Joan Searle

In 1641, when all males over 18 had to swear an oath of allegiance to the King of England and the Protestant religion, Francis Searle was one of 69 men of Holbeton, Devon, to take the oath.1 It is commonly said that Francis Searle who immigrated to Pennsylvania was born in Holbeton in 1642, son of Francis Searle, probably the one who took the oath. There is no immigration record for Francis. He married Joan Philips and had at least one child before immigrating. Their son Arthur was baptized in Holbeton in 1683.

Francis and his wife Joan first appear in Bucks County records in 1690.  In 7th month, Thomas King pleaded not guilty to spreading rumors about Joan Searle. “Hugh Marsh says in about the 3rd month last past Thomas King said there was a witch near by. Being asked who it was, he said he suspected Francis Searle’s wife for she was an ugly ill favored woman and he did believe her to be one. Robert Marsh said he heard Thomas King say that there was a witch hard by.” The jury found King guilty of defaming her.2

In 1697 Searle bought his first known land in Bucks County, although the description of the land makes it clear he already owned an adjoining tract. He bought 400 acres in Bensalem from Joseph Growdon, bounded by land of Growdon, William Duncan, and other land of Francis Searle, paying £60.3 In 1714 Searle sold 100 acres of this land to his son Arthur.4 In 1697 Searle also bought land in Abington, Philadelphia County, jointly with John Carver. They bought 200 acres from the estate of Thomas Terwood, paying £130.5 Three years later they partitioned this land.6 In 1704 Francis Searle and Nicholas Waln requested a resurvey on a tract of 250 acres on Neshaminy Creek, originally laid out for Elizabeth Walmsley, now in the possession of Ralph Draycott. If there was any deficiency it was to be made up from adjacent tracts if possible.7 Searle was an overseer of the highways for Bensalem, serving several times.8 Other than that, he was not active in local government or in Quaker meeting affairs. He worked as a butcher.9

He made his will in January 1722; it was proved in May of that year.10 He left to Joan the rents from 100 acres that their son Thomas had settled on, plus two cows, a horse and 40 bushels of wheat, and a bed and furniture.11 He left cash bequests to his granddaughters Grace and Mary, daughters of his son Thomas deceased. The bulk of his estate was five tracts of land. The son Arthur received the plantation of 300 acres in Bensalem, while the daughter Mary, wife of Henry Walmsley, got the plantation in Southampton of 200 acres and 28 acres in Bensalem, also a plantation of 200 acres in Horsham and land in Abington. Mary and Arthur were the executors. He asked the meeting in Byberry to choose two men to see that the will is fulfilled. It is not known when Joan died.

Children of Francis and Joan:

Mary, married Henry Walmsley in 1699 at Middletown Mtg, lived in Bensalem, had two sons and seven daughters. Mary died in 1747; Henry died in 1759. Children: Joan, Elizabeth, Mary, Thomas, Rebecca, Francis, Sarah, Ann, Grace. All the children were living when Henry’s estate was probated in 1759.12

Thomas, b. ab. 1680 in England, died before 1722, married Sarah Naylor, daughter of John and Jane, in 1709, and left two daughters.13 Thomas and Sarah declared their intentions of marriage at Middletown Meeting on 9th mo 1709.14 Children: Grace, Mary.

Arthur, b. 1683 in England, died in Middletown in 1737, married a daughter of John and Jane Naylor.15 Arthur was a maulster. He left a will naming eight children.16 Children: Thomas, Arthur, John, Jane, Mary, Rebecca, Sarah, and Elizabeth. His wife had died before him.

  1. Holbeton Town Protestation Return 1641/42, on, accessed February 2019. It is interesting to note that Francis is the only name used for both men and women in Pennsylvania at this time.
  2. Records of the courts of Quarter Sessions and Common Pleas of Bucks County 1684 -1700, on Ancestry, p. 246. This was not the only trial involving witchcraft in early Pennsylvania. In 12th month 1683 William Penn presided over the trial of Margaret Matson, a Swedish woman accused of witchcraft. After a parade of witnesses giving circumstantial evidence, she was found not guilty of witchcraft, but guilty of having the “fame” (reputation) of a witch. (Minutes of the Provincial Council)
  3. Bucks County Deeds, book 2, p. 145.
  4. Bucks County Deeds, book 5, p. 55.
  5. Philadelphia County Deeds, book 4, p. 138.
  6. Francis in his will bequeathed this land to his daughter Mary.
  7. Copied Survey Books D67-439, p. 220, on the website of the PA Historical and Museum Commission. It is not clear why they requested this resurvey, since neither of them is known to have owned this land. Was this a favor to Draycott?
  8. Bucks County Court records, starting in 1697.
  9. Reference in the deed of 1697, Philadelphia County Deeds, book 4, p. 138.
  10. Bucks County wills, book 1, p. 56.
  11. She must have been living with one of the children.
  12. Bucks County Deeds, book 10, p. 347; Joseph Martindale, History of Byberry and Moreland.
  13. After Thomas died Sarah married Ralph Dunn, then Thomas Evans.
  14. Middletown Mtg, Women’s Minutes, 1683-1892.
  15. Her name is not definitely known; some sources give it as Rebecca.
  16. Bucks County Wills, Book 1, p. 239, written and proved in 1737.

Thomas Ridge and Rachel Duncan

Thomas Ridge was born in 1728, the oldest son of William Ridge and Mary Walmsley. He grew up on his father’s farm in the northern end of Bensalem Township, Bucks County, and was a member of Byberry Meeting. In December 1759 Thomas and Rachel Duncan declared their intentions to marry and were cleared to proceed.1 Rachel was just 20 years old, the daughter of William Duncan and Mary Carver. Thomas was ten years older than she was. The same month Thomas bought 50 acres of land in Bensalem from Lawrence Growdon, taking out a mortgage from Growdon to pay for it. Thomas worked as a carpenter to support his family of nine children.

In 1807 Rachel’s brother William died, a bachelor. In his will he left his share in the Byberry Library to his nephew William Ridge, “for him to hold agreeable to the constitution of the library”. The nephew William was also one of the executors. William also left a one-fifth share of the residue of his estate to his sister Rachel.2

Thomas died in 1810 and his land was divided among the children. They first deeded it to the miller Ezra Townsend of Bensalem, who deeded a portion to seven (or possibly eight) of them.3 Administration was granted to the sons William and Thomas Ridge. They presented their final account to the Orphans Court in June 1813.4 After the debts were paid, the balance in their hands for distribution was $208.87.5 Rachel outlived Thomas and died in 7th month 1818.6 They were members of Byberry Meeting and were buried in the Friends burying ground on Byberry Road.

Thomas and Rachel had eight or nine children, including one who is not well-documented and may not belong in this family. Most of the children stayed around Bensalem, and some of them had large families. However only one child is known to have married in a Quaker meeting, and several were disowned for marrying out of unity or mustering with the militia.

Children of Thomas and Rachel:7

Mary, b. ab. 1760, d. 4th month 1834, m. Benjamin Adams, b. 1758, son of Jedediah and Rebecca.8 In 10th month 1781 Mary and Benjamin appeared before the Abington women’s meeting to declare their intentions of marriage.9 They were members of Byberry meeting, where Benjamin was appointed in 1809 to tend the meeting house.10 This usually meant cleaning and providing firewood for the wood stove. Mary and Benjamin had eight children, born between 1783 and 1801: Rebecca, Thomas, John, Jedidiah, Amos, Ezra, Benjamin, and Rachel.11

William, b. ab. 1762, d, 1833, m. ab. 1785 Sarah Walmsley, married second an unknown wife after 1819. William was the oldest son of Thomas and Rachel, as he received a double portion of his father’s land. In about 1785 he married Sarah Walmsley, daughter of Henry Walmsley. They had thirteen children between 1786 and 1805, including two sets of twins.12 William and Sarah were members of Byberry Meeting, but several of their children were disowned.13 William himself was disowned in 6th month 1803 for mustering with the militia.14 Sarah died in 12th month 1819, and William later remarried. He died in 3rd month 1833.15 Children of William and Sarah: Isaac, Daniel, Martha, William, Walmsley, Rachel, Esther, Anna, Samuel, Mary, James, Asa, Euphemia.16

Mahlon, b. Feb 29, 1764, d. September 30, 1844,  m. Hannah Hicks, daughter of George Hicks. In the 1810 census in Bensalem, Mahlon and his wife were over 45 years old, with seven younger people in their household. In 1820 he got a certificate for Miami Meeting in Ohio,  where he and Hannah owned a farm of 87 acres on Cesar’s Creek in Wayne township, Warren county, where Mahlon died in 1844, age 80. Hannah died in 1850.17 In his will Mahlon left the farm to Hannah, and named sons Simpson and John Comly as executors.18 The other children were Thomas, George, Charles, Lucy, Mary, Sarah, and Rachel.19

Thomas, b. ab. 1768,  possibly married Jane Campbell. In 12th month 1802 Byberry meeting reported that William Ridge and Thomas Ridge Jr had both paid fines in lieu of mustering with the militia and that Thomas had also mustered with them.20 They were both disowned. It is difficult to separate records for Thomas from his father Thomas (who died in 1810) and possibly nephews. In 1807 Elizabeth Vansant of Byberry sold water rights to Thomas Ridge Jr, a miller of Southampton, probably the one who was there in the 1820 census with seven people in his household.21 In 1810 Thomas the miller bought more land in Southampton from Thomas and Rebecca Groom.22 In 1839, Thomas Ridge died, owner of 2 ¾ acres in Bensalem. This could be a small part of a tract that largely lay in Southampton.23 The name of his wife is uncertain, and the names of his children are unknown.

Joseph, m. Sarah. Her last name is unknown. He was single in 1796.24 In 1798 he was renting a house in Bensalem.25 He was still in Bensalem in 1800.26 He did not receive a portion of his father’s land in 1810, and does not appear in the 1810 census in Bensalem. It is possible that he died between 1800 and 1810.27 His wife Sarah died in 11th month 1822.28

Rachel, b. ab. 1774, d. 1841, m. about 1794 George Randall, a shoemaker.29 They lived in Bensalem, and had seven daughters and two sons, one of whom died young. George died in 1836; Rachel died in April 1841. Children: Mary, Grace, Rachel, Elizabeth, Esther, Sarah, George, Ann.30

Amos, b. ab. 1779, d. 1865, m. 1807 Jane. In 1808 Amos was disowned from Byberry meeting for marriage by a magistrate by a non-Quaker woman.31 They settled in Bensalem, where Amos was both a farmer and a weaver.32 In 1832 they granted land to Thomas Ridge Jr of Southampton, a mason, Amos’ brother?33 In 1860 still in Bensalem, Amos was age 80, a weaver, Jane was 71.34 Amos died on 31 Dec 1865, and was buried in Byberry.35 Jane outlived him and moved to Somerton, Philadelphia County, where she was living in 1870.36

Grace m. Joshua LaRue, son of Abraham and Elizabeth.37 In 1810 Joshua and Grace received her share of her father’s land.38 They lived in Bensalem, where Joshua was a farmer.39  Joshua wrote his will in 1828 and died in early 1833.40 He left the land to Grace while she lived, his apparel to son Abraham, and his watch to daughter Ann. He also mentioned a daughter Rachel deceased. Walmsley Ridge, Grace’s nephew, was appointed to administer.

John, b. ab. 1790. He was living in Bensalem in 1800, but was gone by 1810, and he did not receive a share of his father’s estate in 1810. A death date of 1840 is often given for him, but this may be another man. There are few other records of him, and no information about a wife or children.

  1. Abington Monthly Meeting, Men’s Minutes, 1756-1765, p. 104, image 58 and 59.
  2. Bucks County wills, book 7, p. 283.
  3. The deed to Townsend was apparently not recorded, but is referred to in the individual deeds, all executed on April 2, 1810. (Bucks County deeds 1684-1919, Index Grantees surname T, on FamilySearch, image 58.)
  4. Bucks County Orphans Court records, book 4, p. 148.
  5. Bucks County Orphans Court, Book 4, p. 148, on FamilySearch, image 367.
  6. Member List of Byberry Preparative Meeting, on Ancestry, image 23.
  7. Their births were not registered in meeting minutes, and Thomas did not leave a will. This list is compiled from a Byberry meeting membership list, tax lists, census lists, deeds, and other records. The dates of birth are approximate, and the order may be wrong. Some sources add a son John, but he appears in no records, and if he existed, he died before the distribution of Thomas’ land in 1810.
  8. His parents’ names are from Findagrave, no evidence given.
  9. Abington Monthly Meeting, Women’s minutes 1773-1782, image 45.
  10. Byberry Preparative Meeting, Minutes 1792-1825, image 223. This was not a full-time job.
  11. Byberry Preparative Meeting, Member List 1797, image 3.
  12. Horsham Monthly Meeting, Births and Burials 1782-1889, image 30, on Ancestry, Montgomery County.
  13. Byberry Preparative Meeting, Member List 1797, Image 23, on Ancestry, Philadelphia County.
  14. Byberry Preparative Meeting, Minutes 1792-1825, image 144.
  15. His son Daniel died just seven months later, which is why the disposition of William’s land is shown in the Orphan’s Court records for Daniel. (Bucks County Orphans Court, File #4402, vol. 7-8, p. 226. The record lists William’s children but not Daniel’s.
  16. Horsham Monthly Meeting, Births and Burials 2782-1889, image 30, on Ancestry, Montgomery County.
  17. Post to Ancestry surname board for Ridge, Feb. 8, 2009.
  18. Ancestry, Ohio, Wills and Probate Records 1786-1998, Warren County, Will Records, vol. 10b-11a 1844-1850, image 77, proved Nov. 1844.
  19. Post to Ancestry surname board for Ridge, Feb. 8, 2009. A son Jacob died before his father.
  20. Byberry Preparative Meeting, Minutes 1792-1825, image 144.
  21. Bucks County Deeds, book 60, p. 33, where he is referred to as Thomas Ridge Jr. (his father was still alive); 1820 census, Southampton, image 1, where he is just Thomas Ridge (his father died in 1810).
  22. Bucks County deeds, book 41, p. 439.
  23. Administration on this estate was granted to Evan Groom, who was a married Rachel Ridge Randall’s daughter Rachel.
  24. Bucks County Tax Lists 1782-1860, on Ancestry.
  25. Bucks County Tax Lists, 1798 Direct Tax, image 71. Joseph was living in a house owned by Elisabeth Walton.
  26. Bucks County Septennial Census, 1800, image 94, as Joseph Redge.
  27. But there is a Joseph Ridge in the 1820 census in Southampton, Bucks County, with 12 people in his household.
  28. Byberry Monthly Meeting records, in PA and NJ Church and Town Records, on Ancestry, image 200.
  29. Bucks County tax list 1799, on Ancestry, Image 10.
  30. Rachel’s estate and her heirs are in Bucks County Orphans Court records, File #5401.
  31. Byberry Preparative Meeting, Member List 1797, image 23; Horsham Monthly Meeting, Minutes 1806-1824, image 30.
  32. 1850, 1860 census for Bensalem, Bucks County.
  33. Bucks County Deeds, book 68, p. 650.
  34. Bucks County census 1860, Bensalem, image 60.
  35. Phila Death Certificates Index 1803-1915, on Ancestry. His residence was listed as “Burk County”.
  36. 1870 census, Philadelphia County, Ward 23 District 76, image 111 in PA and NJ Church and Town Records 1669-2013, on Ancestry.
  37. The Larue family were originally Huguenot, intermarried with Dutch families, moved to Bucks County from Staten Island. (Davis, History of Bucks County, vol. 3, pp. 180-181)
  38. Bucks County Deeds, book 56, p. 456. Her husband’s name was given erroneously as Joseph.
  39. Bucks County tax lists, 1808, Bensalem, image 7.
  40. Bucks County Wills, book 11, p. 115.

William Ridge and Mary Walmsley of Bensalem


William Ridge was probably born in England and first appears in Pennsylvania around 1725 when he married Mary Walmsley, daughter of Henry Walmsley and Mary Searle.1 There is no record of William and Mary’s marriage in Byberry Meeting or Abington Monthly Meeting. They must have remained in good standing with Friends, since their deaths and the births of their children were recorded there.2 William and Mary were not active in Byberry meeting.3

They lived in Bensalem, probably on the land bought from Stephen Townsend in 1737.4 It was at the northern end of Bensalem township, on the Southampton township line, originally part of the large tract owned by Joseph Growdon. William bought 56 ¼ acres from Townsend. This was very small for a farm holding, suggesting that William made his living as a craftsman. His son Thomas was a carpenter; perhaps William was also.5

Their five children were born between 1727 and 1743. The spacing between births was unusually large for the time; there may have been difficulties with pregnancies or children who died at birth. Four of the children stayed around Bensalem, while one moved up to the northeast corner of Bucks County.

In 1759 William and Mary inherited part of her parents’ estate. Her mother had died in 1747, but her father Henry lived on until 1759 and died at the age of 88.6 He left a tract of 220 acres in Bensalem, and after his death the seven married daughters sold their share of the land to their brothers Frances and Thomas.7 William and Mary got £40 as their share.

William made his will in November 1775.8  He left the plantation of 57 acres to his wife Mary, with the usual provision that one of the sons should provide firewood; this was the son Henry who was probably living on the land already, and who was to have it after Mary’s death. To the other four children William left cash legacies, to be paid after Mary died. The amounts were uneven, but he explained that this was in addition to what they have already had. Henry also received a plantation in Southampton of 48 acres.

William died in 4th month 1776, aged between 78 and 79. His death was noted in the book of deaths kept by Henry Tomlinson, which included Henry’s neighbors around Byberry.9 This does not mean that William was a member of Byberry Meeting by the time he died. Mary outlived William by twenty years, and died in 1795, age 91.10

Children of William and Mary:11

Thomas, b. 1727, d. 1810, married in 1759 Rachel Duncan, daughter of William Duncan and Mary Carver. Thomas was a carpenter.12 In 1802 they granted to their son Mahlon 9 acres “off the southerly corner” of their land in Bensalem, for $200.13 The same day they granted 4 acres of the northeast corner of their land to their son William, for $315.14

Grace, b. 1731, m. Samuel Cooper, son of William Cooper and Mary Groom. Samuel, b. about 1732; the Groom family owned land near the Ridges in Southampton. Samuel is supposed to have “died very old” according to the Cooper Genealogy.15 He did not leave a will. He and Grace may have had children Grace and William.16

William, b. 1735, d. 1821, m. Catharine Marshall. She was born in 1743, the daughter of Edward Marshall and Elizabeth Oberfeld. Edward was notorious as one of the runners in the Walking Purchase. His family was targeted by an Indian raid in May 1757 and his wife Elizabeth was killed.17 Edward Marshall died in 1790, leaving 15 children including Catherine, wife of William Ridge.18 William and Catharine lived in Tinicum on land inherited from her father. William died there in 1821. In his will he named six sons and five daughters.19 It is not clear how William, from Bensalem, met Catharine, from Tinicum. They lived in opposite corners of  Bucks County.20

Mary, b. 1738, m. 1760 John Praul, the son of Peter Praul and Elizabeth Van Horn. They were married on Nov 6, 1760 at the Presbyterian Church in Abington. The Praul family was of Dutch ancestry, originally from Staten Island.

Henry, b. 1743, d. 1822, m. Elizabeth. Her last name is unknown. They lived in Northampton. Henry died in 1822, and left a will, naming his wife Elizabeth, and children William, Jesse, Aaron, Mahlon, Grace Searl, Rebecca Hicks, Elizabeth Fisher, son Henry deceased, Mary Walton, Lydia Scott.21

  1. There is no record of the birth of William Ridge in England & Wales Quaker birth marriage death registers 1578-1837, on Ancestry. There are no early records of a Ridge family in Pennsylvania except for Daniel Ridge who married Martha Coburn of Middletown, Bucks County. They do not seem to be related to William. Henry Walmsley had married Mary Searle in 1699 under the auspices of Abington Meeting. They settled in Bensalem and had two sons and seven daughters, several of whom married outside of meeting.
  2. Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records, Philadelphia County, Byberry Preparative Meeting, Births and Deaths, image 12; also Montgomery County, Abington MM, Births and Deaths 1682-1809 vol. 1, image 64. All the Quaker meeting records cited here are on Ancestry, US Quaker Meeting Records.
  3. Byberry Meeting was a meeting for worship from the earliest days of the Quaker colony, but was part of Abington Monthly Meeting until 1810, when it was set apart as a separate monthly meeting. Byberry kept some early vital records, but no meeting minutes until it became a monthly meeting. Note that the births and deaths of Byberry starting in 1810 are filed on Ancestry under Berks County, Exeter Monthly Meeting (as of early 2019).
  4. Bucks County Deeds, book 6, p. 240.
  5. But in the only deed recorded in Bucks County, the 1737 sale from Townsend, William was described as a yeoman.
  6. Henry Tomlinson’s book of deaths, in Byberry Monthly Meeting, Deaths 1736-1823, image 15; also in Samuel Hazard, Register of Pennsylvania, vol. 7. The online catalog of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania called it “Deaths and burials taken from Henry Tomlinson’s Book of Records, 1736-1800”.
  7. Bucks County Deeds, Book 10, p. 347, May 10, 1759.
  8. Bucks County wills, book 5, p. 231.
  9. Tomlinson’s book of deaths includes many Quakers. Perhaps that is why it is found online on Ancestry with other Quaker records, under Philadelphia County, Byberry Meeting, Deaths 1736-1823. It also includes Dutch families like Vansant, Hellings, and Titus. It is interesting to note the very high mortality in the summer of 1776 and again in 1777. Was this yellow fever or another infectious disease that peaked in the summer?
  10. Henry Tomlinson’s list of deaths.
  11. Births recorded at both Byberry and Abington. Byberry Preparative Meeting, Births and Deaths, image 12; also Montgomery County, Abington MM, Births and Deaths 1682-1809 vol. 1, image 64
  12. Bucks County deeds, Book 10, page 140 and 142. Lawrence Growdon sold land in Bensalem to Thomas Ridge of Bensalem, carpenter. The next day Thomas gave Growdon a mortgage for the payment price.
  13. Bucks County Deeds, book 32, p. 115. Rachel signed by mark.
  14. Bucks County Deeds, book 31B, p. 534.
  15. Samuel was from the same family as James Fenimore Cooper. The website of the Cooper Society includes a genealogy of the family. (
  16. The children are from web trees, with no evidence.
  17. Davis, History of Bucks County.
  18. Bucks County Orphans Court Records, File #998. Marshall owned 216 acres plus Tinicum Island.
  19. OC record #4139, Dec 13, 1831 and Sept 8, 1843; Bucks County OC, vol. 7-8, image 282. He left a will, probated in 1821, but the account was never filed because of the death of his son Henry, the executor.
  20. There may be a connection through the Groom family. When Thomas Groom of Byberry died in 1736 he named a daughter Elizabeth Marshall in his will. Her ancestry has not been traced.
  21. Bucks County wills, book 10, p. 76, written in 1821, proved in 1822.

William Duncan and Rachel Carver of Bensalem

William Duncan, son of John and Margaret, was born in 1699.1 He grew up in Bensalem, the oldest of four sons. Like his father John, he was a member of Byberry Meeting and later became an elder of the meeting. William was a weaver and lived in Bensalem, where in 1729 he inherited land from his father.2 Part of the land was to be held for the benefit of his brothers Edmund and John who did not marry and became infirm.3 In 1732 William deeded some of the land to his mother Margaret and his brothers Edmund and John, in trust for her during her life and then to Edmund and John.4

In 1722, William married Rachel Carver, daughter of William and Mary.5 William and Rachel had nine children, several of whom probably died young. In 1737 he left 62 ½ acres in Bensalem to his son William, a blacksmith.6

William wrote his will in 12th month 1773. Only three of his children were still alive, and he mentioned two of them in the will: William and Esther. He must have felt that his daughter Rachel, wife of Thomas Ridge, did not need his support. Oddly enough the will was not proved until July 1790.7 William died in 1781, an elder of Byberry Meeting, as the meeting record stated, “26th 11th mo 1781 in the 83rd year of his age”.8 Rachel must have died before 1759 when two of her children were married at Byberry meeting, since she did not sign the wedding certificate as would have been customary.9

Children of William and Rachel:10

Mary, b. 16 Nov 1723, no further records

Margaret, b. 12 Apr 1726, d. 19th mo 1744 unmarried11

William, b. 8 Nov 1728, d. 1807 in Bensalem. He was a blacksmith.12 William did not marry, the “learned old bachelor” described in Martindale’s History of Byberry. He must have trustworthy. In 1761 he was appointed as a guardian for the five children of William Groom, who died in 1760 leaving a widow Rachel.13 In 1772 he was an administrator for the estate of his brother John.14 In 1790 he was the executor for the will of his father William (who had died eight years before).15 In the 1790 census he was listed between Mahlon Ridge and William Giles, both of whom would feature in his will.16 In William’s will, written in 1805 and proved in 1807, he named sisters Rachel and Esther, and nephew William Ridge and four nieces—Rachel Duncan, Esther Briggs, Abigail Giles and Phebe Rich, daughters of his deceased brother John.17 He left his share in Byberry Library to his nephew William Ridge, and also named George Ridge, son of Mahlon Ridge.18

John, b. 2 Aug 1731, married Agnes Comly on 5th day 12th month 1759 at Abington. The witnesses included William Duncan, William Duncan Jr, Rachel Duncan, Esther Duncan—three of John’s siblings plus his father.19 Agnes and John had five daughters born between 1760 and 1767.20 John died in October, 1772. Administration on his estate was granted to Richard Walton, William Duncan (John’s brother), Thomas Ridge (John’s brother-in-law) and Daniel Walton.21 Agnes survived her husband and married again, in 1793 to Andrew Singley Jr. of White Sheet Bay on the Delaware River. She died in 1821.22

Sarah, b. 21 Jul 1734, no further records.

Joseph, b. 4 Dec 1737 (twin with Rachel), d. 1765, a house carpenter in Phila,  left a will, written in 1765, proved two weeks later, leaving his estate to his father William, weaver of Bensalem.23

Rachel, b. 4 Dec, 1737 (twin with Joseph), m. 19th day 12th month 1759 Thomas Ridge at Byberry Meeting, just two weeks after her brother John married Agnes Comly there. Thomas was the son of William Ridge and Mary Walmsley. Thomas and Rachel lived in Bensalem, where he died in 1810. Rachel died in 1818 in Bensalem. Children: William, Mahlon, Rachel, Thomas, and possibly others.24

Esther, b. 7 Apr 1742, alive in 1805, m. John Praul. In 1807 John Praul was named as the brother-in-law of William Duncan in his will, and served as executor. Esther Praul was named in the will.

Isaac, b. 4 May 1750, no further records.

  1. He was “38 years of thereabouts” when he appeared before a justice in November 1737 to affirm his father’s signature on a deed. (Bucks County deeds, Book 14, p. 426. The deed was from William Duncan to his son Edmund Duncan in 1714; it was not acknowledged or recorded until years later.
  2. The description of him as a weaver was from the will of his son Joseph in 1765, Phila County Will Book N, p. 128.
  3. Bucks County wills, book 1, p. 123.
  4. Bucks County deeds, book 6, pp. 31 and 32.
  5. Abington Monthly Meeting Minutes 1722.
  6. Bucks County wills, book 5, pp. 180-81.
  7. Bucks County wills, book 5, pp. 180-81.
  8. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Minutes 1780-1798, on Ancestry, image 52. The deaths of most Friends were not recorded by the Yearly Meeting, but the deaths of elders and esteemed ministers were noted.
  9. Abington Monthly Meeting (Montgomery County), Marriages 1745-1841, on Ancestry, image 68.
  10. The births of all the children were recorded by Abington Monthly Meeting, online on Ancestry, Minutes 1629-1812, Image 113. The marriages and deaths are from various sources as noted.
  11. Her death was recorded by Abington Monthly Meeting, online on Ancestry, (wrongly filed under Chester County, New Garden Monthly Meeting, Births 1684-1850…, image 6). Also in births and deaths of Byberry Preparative Meeting, Philadelphia County.
  12. In his will he left his blacksmith tools to Ethan Briggs, probably a nephew or great-nephew. Ethan was the son of Samuel Briggs and Esther Duncan, who were married in 1784. (Ancestry tree, no sources).
  13. Bucks County Orphans Court File #240. William was guardian along with Rachel and her second husband Edmund Briggs. In 1763 William was replaced by Samuel Biles.
  14. Philadelphia County Administration Files, 1772, online on Ancestry, image 209.
  15. The delay is odd, but is clearly documented in the will of William Duncan of Bensalem, written in 1773, proved in 1790. (Bucks County wills, book 5, pp. 180-81, online at FamilySearch, Bucks County wills, image 111.
  16. Bucks County 1790 census, image 32, township not stated but clearly Bensalem, from the names.
  17. The daughters of John and Agnes were listed with their spouses in Norwood Comly, Comly Family in America, 1939, p. 59.
  18. Bucks County wills, book 7, p. 283. His brother-in-law John Praul and nephews William Ridge and William Giles were executors.
  19. Abington Monthly Meeting (Montgomery County), Marriages 1745-1841, on Ancestry, image 68.
  20. Ancestry trees, no evidence. There should be records in the Philadelphia Orphans Court for the children’s estate after John’s death.
  21. Philadelphia Administration files, 1772, online on Ancestry, image 209.
  22. Joseph Martindale, History of Byberry and Moreland, 1867.
  23. Philadelphia Will book N, p. 128.
  24. The list given for them in some Ancestry trees would be impossible.

John and Margaret Duncan of Bensalem

John was born around 1667 in England and immigrated as a teenager with his parents William and Jane. They settled in Bensalem and were members of Byberry meeting. In 1698 John married Margaret Crighton at Falls Meeting.1 John owned 209 acres in Bensalem on Poquessing Creek, adjoining land of his father William and brother Edmond.2 A memorial to him after his death said that, “he was appointed an elder for Byberry meeting in 1725 and continued such to his decease, which was about the 61st year of his age and was a useful member in the society.”3

John and Margaret had four sons. The oldest, William, was active in Byberry Meeting and served as its Clerk for many years. He worked as a weaver and lived in Bensalem. Two of his brothers, Edmond and John, were probably unmarried and died infirm and blind.4 The youngest of the four was Patrick, who married out of meeting and probably moved to Maryland.

In 1728 John wrote his will.5 He left land to his son William, and left the remainder of his estate to his wife Margaret. He intended for Margaret and William to care for the two sons who needed it. The executors were Margaret, William, and John’s brother Edmond. John died on 31st of 12th mo 1728/29.6 In April 1732 Margaret conveyed the land to her son William and the next day he conveyed it back to her, to be for the benefit of his brothers Edmund and John.7 Margaret did not leave a will and the date of her death is not known.

Children of John and Margaret:8

William, b. 1699, m. in 1722 Rachel Carver, daughter of William and Jane. William was a weaver and they lived in Bensalem.9 William and Rachel had nine children: Mary, Margaret, William, John, Sarah, Joseph, Rachel, Esther and Isaac. William died in 1781, an elder of Byberry meeting.10

Edmund, b. ab. 1701, in 1754 he was infirm and blind, and died in 3rd mo 1757 blind.11

John, b. ab. 1703, in 1754 he was infirm.12 In 7th month 1757 he wrote a will leaving the land in Bensalem to his brother Patrick, “granted by my deceased mother Margaret Dunkan to me and my late decd brother Edund Dunkan.” John died in 1760.13

Patrick, b. ab. 1705. He married Rebecca Pritchard at Christ Church in June 1730, and was testified against by Abington Monthly Meeting on 12th month 1730/31 after a complaint by Byberry Meeting.14 In In 1758 Patrick and his brother John, both of Bensalem, deeded land to William Groom on Poquessing Creek, 209 acres, deeded to Patrick’s father William Duncan in 1697. In 1763 Patrick Duncan requested a certificate for himself and four children to Gunpowder Meeting in Maryland.15 It was probably this Patrick.16

  1. Falls Monthly Meeting, men’s minutes, 4th and 5th month 1698. Her ancestry has not been traced; there was no Crighton/Creighton family in lower Bucks County at this time.
  2. This land was conveyed to him by his father William, in 10th month 1708 when William also gave part of his 600-acre tract to John’s brother George, but the deed was not recorded. It is referred in a deed of 1758 (Bucks County Deeds, book 11, p. 166)
  3. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Minutes 1755-1760, online on Ancestry, image 557.
  4. Abington Monthly Meeting minutes, 11th and 12th month 1754.
  5. Bucks County Wills, Book 1, p. 123.
  6. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, minutes 1755-1760, online on Ancestry, image 557.
  7. Bucks County deeds, book 6, pp. 31 and 32.
  8. William, Edmond and John are well documented through John’s will, deeds, and meeting records. Patrick is documented through Bucks County deed, book 11, p. 166, when John Jr sold land to William Groom with the advice and consent of his brother Patrick.
  9. The designation as a weaver from from the will of his son Joseph in 1765 (Philadelphia Will Book N, p. 128).
  10. His death was noted in the minutes of Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting, 8th month 1782, on Ancestry, Minutes 1772-1886, image 225.
  11. Abington Monthly Meeting Minutes 11th and 12th month 1754. He should not be confused with the Edmond Duncan of Bensalem who died in 1760, leaving eight children. That was his uncle Edmond, son of William and Margaret. (Bucks County wills, book 3, p. 31)
  12. Abington Monthly Meeting Minutes 11th and 12th month 1754.
  13. Bucks County wills, book 3, p. 39.
  14. Abington Monthly Meeting, Men’s Minutes 1682-1746, 12th month 1730/31. Online at Ancestry, image 87. In 1741 Daniel Pritchard died, leaving a daughter Hannah; Patrick Duncan was appointed guardian (Bucks County Orphans Court records, OC File #70)
  15. Abington Monthly Meeting, minutes, 4th mo 1763, online at Ancestry, Men’s Minutes 1756-1765, , image 134, 136.
  16. Patrick Duncan of Bensalem should not be confused with Patrick Duncan, planter of Ann Arundel, Maryland, who was there by 1675 (Duncan material gathered on the website of Mary Ann Dobson).

William Cooper and Mary Groom


William Cooper was born about 1699, the son of James and Hester Cooper.1 William grew up on Mulberry Street in Philadelphia, where his father was a shoemaker, and later a shopkeeper. When William was young his mother Hester died. His father did not remarry for sixteen years, about the time that William himself married.

About 1722, William married Mary Groom of Byberry about 1722. She was born about 1700, the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Groom. Their marriage was not recorded in Quaker records, either in Philadelphia or Abington (which would have been the monthly meeting for Byberry). William may have met Mary six years before, when her parents sold land to his parents, and Mary served as a witness. She would have been about fifteen, just old enough to witness a deed. In the deed, Thomas and Elizabeth sold 260 acres of land to James Cooper.2 In 1725 James and Hester sold that land to their son Samuel. Years later Samuel would leave most of it to Mary’s children.

It is not clear where William and Mary lived at first. He bought a tract in Southampton, Bucks County, in 1724, but sold it two years later.3 At the time he bought it he was a “husbandman” of Philadelphia County. They were probably living on some of the land in Moreland that his father James bought in 1711. In 1732 James Cooper and his second wife Mary were buried on the same day. William and his siblings inherited valuable land from their father, to be shared equally. The heirs sold the tract in the Great Swamp of Bucks County to John Parratt in February 1734.4 Parratt paid £30, which had to be split among the six heirs. A more valuable inheritance was the land on Mulberry Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets, which was shared among the heirs. It was a simple procedure of drawing lots out of a hat, written up in a complex partition deed.5 William and his brothers and sisters met together in the Manor of Moreland and drew the lots. William drew paper number eight, a less valuable tract than the others, but the heirs balanced the values with a system of payments between themselves. Whoever drew lot eight would get yearly payments from the holders of three other lots. This appears to have been an amiable process, since it bound the siblings together in yearly payments for as long as they owned the land. The lots yielded not only payments from other Coopers, but also groundrents from craftsmen and tradesmen who rented there. Soon after, William and Mary sold the rents from their share to John Robinson, a merchant of Philadelphia, for £50.6

By 1734 William and Mary were living in Byberry and were taxed there for 150 acres.7 All six of their children were probably born by then. In 1736 Mary faced a double loss. William died, leaving her with six children.8 In the fall of 1736, her father Thomas died and made her his executor.9 Normally a son would be an executor, but Thomas’ only son William died four years before his father. Thomas left his daughter Mary the residue of 45 pounds reserved for his care, if not expended already. This suggests that she had been caring for him before he died. Her mother Elizabeth had died some time before, leaving him widowed.

William’s brother Samuel Cooper had no children of his own, and was generous to Mary and her children in his 1750 will.10 He left her a plantation “that I bought of her father Thomas Groom deceased”, probably the tract in Moreland that James bought from Thomas Groom and later sold to Samuel.11 After Mary’s death it was to go to her sons Joseph and Samuel. To her other sons Thomas and James, Samuel left two plantations in Buckingham, “to Thomas Cooper that plantation that William Preston did clear out of the woods and to James Cooper the other plantation that Nathan Preston did clear out of the woods”. He also provided for Mary’s daughters. After the death of his sister Rebecca Kelly, Samuel’s land at Huntingdon was to be sold and the proceeds shared between Mary’s daughters Rebecca and Letitia and several of their cousins.12 All six of Mary’s children also got a share of the residual estate.

Mary outlived her husband by many years, dying in the spring of 1772. Henry Tomlinson referred to her as “Mary Groom an ancient widow” in his book of local deaths.13 She was living in Byberry. In her will she named her surviving children. Thomas inherited the plantation she lived on in Byberry. Thomas was also the executor. Her son Joseph received £10, and her sons Samuel and James each got 20 shillings. Her surviving daughter Letitia got the wearing apparel.14 The inventory was taken on April 18, 1772. It itemized her clothes: four petticoats, some gowns, two aprons, a pair of gloves, two shifts, some caps and handkerchiefs. She had few household goods and no farm implements or animals or crops, suggesting that she already considered these as Thomas’ property.

Children of William and Mary:15

Rebecca, b. ab. 1724, d. 1757, m. William Hibbs, had a daughter Rebecca who m. William Trego in 1768.16

Thomas, b. 1726, d. 1805, m. ab. 1750 Phebe Hibbs, daughter of Joseph and Rachel, settled in Solebury. They were members of Middletown Meeting, and later transferred to Wrightstown. Children: Phebe, Thomas, and Mary.

James, b. 1729, d. 1795, m. at Christ Church in 1750 Hannah Hibbs, dau. of William and Ann, 2) 1778 Elizabeth Wager. James and Hannah had eight children, including a son William who became the father of James Fenimore Cooper. They later moved to Chester County, and are buried in West Caln.

Joseph, d. ab. 1730, d. 1789, m. Elizabeth Stevens; lived in Bensalem. Joseph left a will naming sons Joseph and Benjamin, and six daughters: Catherine, Mary, Rebecca, Charity, Ann, and Letitia. Elizabeth was the residual heir and the executor.17

Samuel, b. ab. 1732, m. Grace Ridge, b. 1731, daughter of William and Mary; the Ridge family owned land near the Grooms in Southampton. Samuel is supposed to have “died very old” according to the Cooper Genealogy. He did not leave a will. He and Grace may have had children Grace and William.18

Letitia, b. ab. 1733, m. about 1753 Abraham States, son of Abraham and Elizabeth, lived in Southampton. Letitia died in 1818 when letters of administration were granted on her estate. Abraham died before her.19 The Staats family was originally Dutch and moved to Bucks County from Staten Island. Abraham was christened in April 1730 at the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and died after 1810.20 Children: William, Abraham, Letitia, Cooper.

  1. The family has been well documented because William Cooper and Mary Groom were the great-grandparents of the novelist James Fenimore Cooper. The website of the James Fenimore Cooper Society includes two genealogies of the Cooper family, one by William W. Cooper in 1879 and one by Wayne Wright in 1983. The one by William Cooper has extensive documentation for the first generation, while Wright added more recent evidence. The Cooper Society website is now at:
  2. Philadelphia County Deeds, H17, p. 152.
  3. There is another William Cooper of Bucks County who is confusable with this William. That was William Cooper of Low Ellinton, who immigrated in 1699 and lived in Buckingham Towship. Fortunately he did not have a son William. The deeds for the Southampton land are in Bucks County Deeds, vol. 5, p. 235. Cooper bought the land from Jan Van Buskirk and sold it to John Norris.
  4. Philadelphia County Deeds, H1, p. 47.
  5. Philadelphia County Deeds, G6, p. 419, August 2, 1734.
  6. Philadelphia County Deeds, F8, p. 248. The date on this deed is February 17, 1734. This poses a problem in chronology. The partition deed of the Mulberry Street land omitted the month and day and was dated only as 1734. In the acknowledgment before the justice on July 4, 1735, John Campbell swore that he had witnessed the signing on “the second day of August last past”, which is to say August 1734. But William and Mary’s sale to John Robinson clearly states that the partition had already occurred. It is not clear which date is wrong.
  7. Landholders 1734, PA Genealogical Magazine, volume 1, p. 167.
  8. He did not leave a will and the date of his death is not known. The date of 1736 is from the Cooper Genealogy 1879. He died before October 1736, since Thomas Groom did not name him in his will. But William could not have died much before 1736, given the probable dates of birth of his children.
  9. Philadelphia County will book F, p. 22.
  10. Philadelphia County wills, City Hall, 1750 #207
  11. Philadelphia County Deeds, Book H17, p. 154
  12. In particular, it was to be shared with “my sister Esther Hussey’s daughter Esther and my cousin James Cooper son of James Cooper deceased and my sister Rebecca Kelly’s children”. It is not known how many children Rebecca Kelly had.
  13. Henry Tomlinson’s Book of Deaths 1736-1850, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Tomlinson kept records of deaths of people in lower Bucks County and upper Philadelphia County, Quakers and non-Quakers.
  14. Philadelphia County wills, 1772, file #184, packets at City Hall.
  15. Cooper Genealogy with additions from other sources.
  16. Cooper Genealogy, 1879. Some web trees assign six or more children to Rebecca and William, some born when Rebecca was only eleven years old! The Hibbs family is not well documented.
  17. Bucks County Will Book 5, p. 146.
  18. The children are from web trees, with no evidence.
  19. He is not the Abraham Staats who died in Bensalem in 1774 with a wife Elizabeth, Bucks County Will Book 3, p. 361.
  20. The website of Katie Ives, accessed 2/2019, based on research by James Roberts, “The States/Staats Families of Bucks Co PA”, mss at the Spruance Library, Doylestown.