John and Lydia Goforth

John Goforth was born in Yorkshire about 1667, the son of William Goforth and Ann Skipton.1 His parents were convinced Quakers, who were married in 1662 in a meeting at Elloughton, East Riding of Yorkshire. They immigrated in 1677 to West Jersey with their five sons, including John, and lived at first in Burlington, New Jersey. William died in March 1678, six months after their arrival. Ann soon married William Oxley and had a daughter Honora with him. They moved to Chester County, Pennsylvania. John was not yet of age then, and would have grown up with his mother, stepfather, and two stepbrothers and a stepsister. William Oxley died in 1717 and Ann died in 1723. After that the Goforth sons—John, George, William, Miles and Zachariah—scattered. George stayed in New Jersey, where he died in 1732. In his will he left land to his son, but if the son did not arrive to claim it, it was to go to his brother John. William lived near Easton, Maryland, but moved to Red Lion Hundred, New Castle County before his death in 1748. Miles moved to Kent County, Delaware and died there before 1734. Zachariah also died in Kent County, in 1736.

John moved to Red Lion Hundred, where he was a tanner and miller. He owned a sawmill on Christiana Creek, but worked as a tanner2. He bought land in St. Georges Hundred in 1725, and another tract in 1728, on the road to Bohemia Manor.3 He was supposed to have a wife Hannah who died in 1721.4 At some point he married a woman named Lydia. John had five known children, named in his will.5

John and Lydia were not Quakers. In 1740 they were both baptized at Welsh Tract Baptist Meeting in Pencader, just west of Red Lion Hundred.6 John died in 1750. In his will he left land and the sawmill to John, land to William, and money to the three daughters, following the typical pattern of the time. He hoped to keep the land in the family, and left it entailed, to the heirs of his sons. 7

Children of John:8

William, the eldest son. He married twice. He married before 20 July 1742, Ann, daughter of Andrew Anderson.9  By 1756 he was married to a woman named Mary. William and Mary bought and sold several pieces of land, including some of the land he had inherited from his father John. John had left the land entailed, to William “and the heirs of his body lawfully begotten for ever”. William had to go through a process of Common Recovery in order to own the land in fee simple, so that he could sell some of it.10 The last reference to William and Mary is in 1767 when they sold a tract on the Kings Road and another near the Black Bridge.11

John, alive in 1750. He may have lived in Bucks County for a time, possibly as an apprentice to learn the sawmill trade. In October 1747 a John Goforth was accused in Bucks County of fornication and bastardy with Rebecca Kelly. William Groom, father of Thomas Groom, stood surety for John.12 In 1750 John inherited a saw mill on Christiana Creek with its “great saw and timber wheels”, and the adjoining land, partly in Pencader Hundred and part in White Clay Hundred. He was to inherit the silver watch and some of his father’s apparel. A marriage or probate record has not been found for him.

Elizabeth, married a Cochran before 1750, possibly the James Cochran, mariner, who gave power of attorney to his wife Elizabeth in 1783.13

Margaret, married a Cannon before 1750.14 “The Cannons were a prominent family who came to [St Georges Hundred] in 1724.15 She might have been the wife of Isaac Cannon, who was living near the Dragon Swamp in 1742.16

Lydia, m. 1750 Thomas Groom of Bucks County, son of William and Margaret. They lived in Southampton where Thomas owned a mill. They were often in debt and in 1785 they lost the mill property in a sheriff’s sale.17 After that they lived on a property leased from their son Thomas. Children: Thomas, John, William.


  1. George Tuttle Goforth, Goforth Genealogy, 1981, 1988.
  2. He described himself as a tanner in his will.
  3. New Castle County land records 1715-1728, deeds of 20 Aug 1725 and 22 Nov 1728.
  4. Goforth Genealogy.
  5. Since there are no marriage or birth records for this family, it is difficult to know which mothers bore the children. The relatively uncommon name of Lydia surely means that Lydia was the daughter of Lydia.
  6. Church Records of New Castle County, vol. 1.
  7. Ancestry, Delaware Wills and Probate Records 1676-1971, New Castle Register of Wills Glasgow-Goldsborough, image 632.
  8. Since John’s brother William also lived in Red Lion Hundred, it can be difficult to untangle the records of his life and his children from John’s children.
  9. F. Edward Wright, New Castle County, Delaware, Marriage References & Family Relationships, 1680-1800.
  10. Delaware Land Records 1677-1947, New Castle, on Ancestry, Roll 8, p. 172; Roll 7, p. 362. Other land transactions of William and Mary at: Roll 5, p. 235; Roll 6, p. 548; Roll 7, p. 348, p. 454, p. 497.
  11. Delaware Land Records, Roll 8, p. 309.
  12. Bucks County Criminal Papers, #458, Spruance Library, Doylestown. This is an unlikely scenario, since Bucks County is 70 miles north of Red Lion Hundred. However, there is no question about the identity of the Thomas Groom who married Lydia Goforth in May 1750, and a relation between William Groom and the Goforth family would explain how Thomas and Lydia met.
  13. Delaware Land Records 1677-1947, New Castle, roll 11, image 707-08.
  14. Not Andrew Cannon, who was married to Veronica Gooding. (Delaware Land Records, Roll 6, p. 634).
  15. J. Thomas Scharf, History of Delaware, 1609-1888.
  16. Delaware Land Records, Roll 4, p. 389. Delaware Wills and Probate, on Ancestry, New Castle, Register of wills, Cann, Eliza-Cantrill, Samuel, Image 647-648, has his inventory but no will.
  17. Bucks County deeds, vol. 31A, p. 457.

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