Monday, July 20, 2015

Beeks line: Thomas Butterfield 1665-1731

I sure am puzzled about Thomas.  So far I have been able to find very little about him.  He was born in 1665 in Balidon, Bradford, Yorkshire, England, or possibly in 1670.  The 1670 date may be a christening date.  His parents were John Butterfield, noted as "the younger" and possibly Elizabeth.

That is as much as we know about his early life.  We don't know for sure when he immigrated to the New World.  The one reference I have found so far is a Thomas Butterfield who came to Maryland in 1681.  If this is our Thomas, he would have been quite young, and possibly came either to join relatives or as an indentured servant. (This is pure speculation  As I said, I've found nothing.) The puzzling thing about the Maryland arrival is that he is soon found in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where he lived out the rest of his life, so the Maryland Thomas may or may not be ours.

Thomas was a bricklayer/mason by profession, so he probably served an apprenticeship somewhere, whether as an indentured servant or in the traditional apprenticeship fashion.  There would have been plenty of work for him in Chester County as the area was new and many stone homes were being built.  He seems to have felt stable enough financially to get married in the  1690's, to a woman named Mary (sometimes identified as Mary Taylor, although I've never seen documentation for that.)

Mary was baptized as an adult at St Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1704.  By now, Thomas and Mary had several children, including Sarah, John, Rachel and Barshebe.  Dinah was born in 1705, and there may have been two additional sons. 

Thomas purchased 150 acres of land in Upper Providence Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1697/8  The land was a wooded area on Ridley Creek, and would have provided much of what a family would need to survive and perhaps thrive.  Income from the masonry work probably filled in whatever was missing. 

We can imagine that Thomas and Mary worked hard and led a devout life, although Thomas had a few brushes with the law.  It was nothing serious, and he seems to have always been at least partly in the right.  Thomas must have been respected because not only was he a constable, he was also one of the founders of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church, and was listed as one of those who appointed vestrymen and wardens for the church.

Thomas died in 1731 in Upper Providence, Chester County, Pa., apparently without leaving a will.  He was 66 years old.  We don't know when Mary died. 

I'd sure like to know more about the Butterfield family in Balidon, England.  I found a reference that showed there were still Butterfields there, so it's possible they are distant cousins.  I'd like to know about John and his wife, and whether John "the younger" is the son of another John, "the older". (It doesn't necessarily follow that the younger is the son of the older; John the older could be an uncle or a cousin or a grandfather.)

The line of descent is:

Thomas Butterfield-Mary
Sarah Butterfield-Morris Rees
Hannah Rees-Thomas Rees
Solomon Rees-Anna
Owen T Rees-Margaret Moon
Eliza Rees-Samuel G Dunham
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendents