Roger North was born about 1704, in Westmeath, Ireland, the son of Caleb North. The family was apparently well off, since the story was passed down that Roger had been educated for the ministry. He instead proposed to go to Pennsylvania, and his father replied, “If you are determined upon that, Roger, we will all go.” A receipt for their passage, for 38 guineas, was saved in the family. It was dated May 1, 1729, from Cork, Ireland. They arrived in Philadelphia on July 20. The receipt covered eleven people, which would include Caleb and his wife (whose name may have been Jane), Roger, and his seven younger brothers and sisters, and one other unknown.
Either Caleb or Roger bought 69 acres from the Penn family at Gilbert Manor, Montgomery County, and settled there. The tax list of Philadephia County for 1734 shows the 69 acres in Providence (part of Gilbert Manor) as owned by Roger North. There was no land in Caleb’s name in 1734. Perhaps Caleb died soon after their arrival. If so, Roger supported the family until his brothers and sisters married and left home.
In 1732 Roger married Ann Rambo, daughter of Peter and Magdalena. The Rambos were a well-known Swedish family, founded in Pennsylvania by Peter Gunnarson Rambo in 1640. Roger was an immigrant, while Ann was the third generation of her family born in Pennsylvania. Roger and Ann are said to have lived at the mouth of Mingo Creek, in Providence Township, Montgomery County, where Roger was a miller and a tanner. Present-day Mingo Creek flows into the Schuylkill further south, nowhere near Providence Township. Perhaps one of the smaller creeks in Upper Providence Township was formerly known as Mingo Creek.
Roger and Ann were members of St. James Episcopal Church at Perkiomen. Founded before 1710, it served families of the Skippack, Perkiomen and Limerick areas. In 1736 a group of the parishioners sent a petition to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in London requesting that a minister be sent to them. The list of signers included Peter Rambo and Rodger Worth (probably an error for Roger North).
In 1748 Roger was a lieutenant in the provincial militia. Years later, when the Revolution began, Roger made a patriotic speech at the Trappe Inn supporting it. He is reported to have said that “although disabled himself by age and infirmity to engage in the struggle for human rights, his sons belonged to his country in the day of her need and not to himself, and the liberty of the colonies must and should be defended.”
Roger and Ann had thirteen children together, including eight sons who may have served in the Revolution. After the war the sons obtained land bounties and moved to Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and upstate New York. Several of them had already moved northwest to central Pennsylvania.
In the tax list of Philadelphia County in 1769, Roger was listed as a miller, with 220 acres, five horses and four cows, plus a grist mill. By 1774, he had 180 acres and no mill. By the time he wrote his will in 1784, he had only 70 acres. He must have been selling his land gradually. Some of his sons lived in Montgomery County initially, but none of them stayed there.
Roger died in 1785. In his will, written on August 27, 1784, he left all the household goods to Ann except for his writing desk, which was to go to his son George. She was to have the middle room in the house, where she would be living with their son Thomas. If she wanted to live elsewhere, Thomas was to pay her £15 yearly for maintenance. He left cash legacies to each of the sons, except Samuel, who had already received his portion. Thomas was to pay the others out of the proceeds from the estate. Thomas received the land (70 acres), the house, the livestock and implements. The daughters were not mentioned in the will; they must have already received their portions. They were presumably already married by 1784. The inventory showed a comfortable household, with furniture including a tea table, livestock, farm implements, tools, and a shad seine. After his death Ann presumably lived with Thomas in Providence Township. She wrote her will on December 18, 1797. Most of the household goods were to go to her daughter Sophia, with other special legacies such as three pewter plates to granddaughter Hannah Humphries, 6£ to grandson Samuel Davis, and the large margin Bible to son Joshua. The bulk of her estate, in the form of cash, bonds, and notes, was to be divided among her four daughters: Sophia, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Ann. If any of the heirs, especially George McElhaney, brought any charges against the estate, then those charges were to be deducted from their one-fourth portion. She signed it by mark. She must have died in the spring of 1798, since the inventory of her estate was taken on March 3. It showed the contents of a comfortable room, with a tea table, tea kettle, and two tea pots, plus £103 in cash and notes.
All of the sons of Roger and Ann served in the military during the Revolution, either in the regulars or the militia. Eliza Keyes, widow of George North, was still alive in 1857 and she passed on a story about the fighting North brothers. “Captain North inherited from an older brother, Col. Caleb North, his sword, a pair of pistols used by a progenitor at the Boyne water about 1690, and a black charger which had borne him at the head of his troop on many a hard fought field, especially at Monmouth, in which battle it is supposed that seven of the brothers participated, and concerning which it is said that there is in the family an autograph letter of compliments from Washington himself.” She may have confused this with a known letter from Washington to Caleb North complimenting him on taking a French ship from the British, and instructing him on how to deal with the cargo.
Children of Roger and Ann:
Sophia, b. 1734, m. 1) Isaac Davis in 1756 at Trappe Church, 2) George McElhaney in 1766, lived in Charlestown, Chester County. George died in 1802. Sophia left a will, proved in June 1819, naming her six surviving children: Lewellin, Roger, Hannah, Elizabeth, Sophie, George. Other children had already died.
Samuel, b. Sept 8, 1735, supposedly d. 1778, had at least three known children (Joseph, Mary, Ann). He fought in the Revolution. The name of his wife or wives is in question. Stipes said he married a woman named Adams; the Rambo Tree adds a second marriage to Barbara Hagermood; however his brother Roger was also supposed to have married Barbara Hagermood. Samuel probably lived in Perry County at some point, as his son Joseph married his cousin there. Joseph’s sister Ann married Samuel Harvey, who lived in Chester County, on the Juniata, Harper’s Ferry and Germantown at various times. Harvey became president of the Bank of Germantown.
Sarah, b. 1737, m. Elisha Davis in 1759 at Trappe Church; he may have been the brother of her sister Sophia’s husband Isaac. The tradition was passed down that Elisha was lost at sea. Sarah died June 18, 1813 in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Children: Roger, Sarah.
Elizabeth, b. Nov 2, 1740, d. 1813, m. George Evans in 1764 in Mifflintown, Juniata County. George was a surveyor. She died Feb. 24, 1813 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Children: Frederick, Lewis, Caleb, Lydia, William. Frederick helped build Fort McHenry, was second-in-command during the bombardment, wrote a vivid account of the shells falling.
John, b. Oct 5, 1743, d. 1799, m. Catherine Borce or Boyce in 1767, bought land in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in 1792. Dexter North said that he died in Hocking County, Ohio, but his wife Katherine advertised in a Pennsylvania paper for payments of debts owed the estate on Dec 4, 1799, and a year later advertised “for let” a plantation of 310 acres on the Juniata River, Greenwood Township, Cumberland County, late the estate of John North, adjoining Joshua North. Perhaps she moved back to Cumberland County after John died, to sell property he still owned there. Children: Sophia, Ann (Nancy), Elizabeth, Catherine, Euphemia, Sarah, Hannah, Abigail, Caleb, John. A family Bible was passed down to descendents with dates. Catherine died in 1816.
Joshua, b. Nov 3, 1745, d. 1822, m. 1) 1776 Rebecca Cloyd, 2) 1796 Mary Murray, lived in Cumberland County (later Perry County). He served in the militia in 1780 to 1782. He started a tannery with his brother Caleb in Greenwood Township. They also owned an island in the Juniata River, known as North’s Island, near the old Rope Ferry Dam. They built the dam and a rope ferry there. Joshua wrote a will, proved in 1822 in Perry County, named his wife Mary and children from both wives. Children with Rebecca: James, Caleb, Joshua, Rebecca. Children with Mary: Frederick, Hannah, John, Hiel, Roger.
William, b. 1747, d. 1834, m. 1778 Catherine Elizabeth Jordan, moved to Greenwood Township, Juniata County after the Revolution. Children: Rachel, Abigail, Catherine, and Wilhelmina. He is sometimes confused with his nephew William, son of Caleb.
Roger, b. 1749, m. 1) Elizabeth Todd (her brother was the grandfather of Mary Todd Lincoln), 2) (supposedly) Barbara Hagermood (see the bio of Roger’s brother Samuel). Roger moved to Charlestown, Chester County, was in West Nantmeal for the 1790 and 1800 census, and was buried at the Presbyterian Cemetery there in 1831. His wife Elizabeth died in 1803. There is no consensus on the names of his children, possibly four by his second marriage. Roger received an annuity in 1825 for his Revolutionary War service.
Nancy, b. 1750, d. 1826, m. John Humphreys in 1772, moved to Charlestown Township, Chester County where John bought the homestead of his parents, later moved to Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Children: John, Hannah, David, George W, Roger, Ann, Abigail. He died there in 1796; Nancy died in 1826 at the home of her son George Washington Humphreys.
Caleb, b. 1753, d. 1840, m. Abigail Hockley in 1782, Lydia Lewis in 1795; had a distinguished career in the Revolution, fought at the Battles of Brandywine, Paoli, and Monmouth. In the charge up the hill at Monmouth, the officer on one side of him was killed and the officer on the other side had two horses shot under him. He settled in Coventry, Chester County and was later made High Sheriff of Pennsylvania. Child with Abigail: Francis. Children with Lydia: Ann, Sarah, Caleb, Emmeline, George W, Maria, Edwin, Louisa, Ella Harriet. Caleb left a will, written in 1837, proved in 1840 in Chester County, naming his wife Lydia and eight of his children. Francis was dead, leaving a widow. There was no mention of Louisa.
George, b. ab. 1754, d. 1814, m. Sarah Evans in Jan 12, 1786 at First Baptist Church, Phila, married Eliza Keyes in 1794. He first moved to Chester County, then moved to Keep Tryste Furnace near Harpers Ferry about 1790. Sarah died there in 1793, and he married Eliza the following year. George ended up in Fairfax County, Virginia, and died in Alexandria in December 1814. Children with Sarah: Ann, Lydia, Mary (or Sarah), William; Children with Eliza: Mary, Sarah, William, Thomas, Eliza, Aurelia, Emily, Nathaniel, George. Eliza was granted a pension in 1851 for his Revolutionary service; she died in 1859.
Thomas, b. 28 Aug 1757, d. 1815, m. 1783 Naomi Davis in central Pennsylvania, moved to Ludlowville, New York by 1799. Naomi survived him by thirty years, dying in 1844. Possible children: Mary Ann, Joshua, Eliza, Jemiah, Joseph, Rodger.
Hannah, b. 1761, d. 1785, m. James Parker; she died in Kentucky; he was said to be killed by Indians in Kentucky. They left a son North Parker, born about 1783 in Kentucky.