Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Beeks line: John Wilsford, Immigrant 1643-after 1695

I wonder if there is wishful thinking about this ancestor, or at least about this ancestor's ancestors, on the internet.  I've found trees that say that John is the son of Thomas Wilsford and the grandson of Thomas Wilsford and Elizabeth Sandys.  This would give our John a famous pedigree indeed.  However, it doesn't make sense to me for a number of reasons, including geography both in England and in the New World, religion (Quaker vs Church of England) and economic status.  So until we find actual records supporting the more famous pedigree, let's just consider John's parents as unknown.

John was from Leicestershire, England, most likely, as that is where he married his wife Alice Towle in 1665.  There are entries for at least two of his children, John and Mary, in the "England and Wales Non-Conformist Record Indexes1588-1977" found on FamilySearch.org.  So as early as 1666, when John was born, this was a Quaker family.

The Wilsfords had other children, also.  There was an earlier Mary, Thomas, and Hannah, of all whom died young. The other child who survived was Sarah, who was two years younger than our Mary. ( Perhaps the fact that a  child was named Thomas caused someone to connect this John to the wealthier family in Virginia.)  John and his family show in the Monthly Meetings of Old Dalby in Leicestershire, until about March 1675/76.  Two years later (1678)  they are at the Huntingdonshire Monthly Meetings, so they must have moved in that time period, probably to Fenny Stanton.  They stayed there about 7 years and then were given a certificate to remove to Pennsylvania, except that they actually settled in what is now New Jersey, near the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting.

John was a miller, and acquired land by 1685 near the Falls of the Delaware River.  He had first lived at Crosswicks Creek in Chesterfield.  In 1692 he had land surveyed, 200 acres at the SE corner of his formerly surveyed land, along Shabbaconke Creek, adjoining Joshua Eley.  John Wilsford Sr. and John Wilsford Junior sold 200 acres in Hopewell Township, Hunterdon County, NJ to Nathaniel Fretwell.  This is the last we hear of John Senior, so he died sometime after this sale of land.  (A lot of dates on the internet say he died September 28,1695, but this should be read as "After September 28, 1695."

Alice Towle Wilsford died March 31, 1688, so she didn't live long in the New World.  Life was hard, especially for women.  John outlived her by at least 8 years but assuming he died about 1696, which may not be a safe assumption, he would have been only 53 years old himself.

We are fortunate to have a little more information about John Wilsford than for some of our immigrant ancestors.  We know he was a member of the Society of Friends (Quaker), which means we know something of the way he would have lived his life.  We know he was a miller, so we know his livelihood.  And we know that he had three children who liked near him, in their early adult years. Of course, I'd love to know more, such as just when he died, but this is a good start.

As always, I'd love to hear from anyone who knows more about this family, or who is a part of this family!

The line of descent is:

John Wilsford-Alice Towle
Mary Wilsford-James Moon
Simon Moon-Louretha Humphrey
Jacob Moon-Jane Rees
Thomas Moon-Jean Gray
Maraget Moon-Owen T Reese
Eliza Reese-Samuel G Dunham
Margaret Catherine Dunham-Harvey Aldridge
Cleo Aldridge-Wilbur Beeks
Mary Margaret Beeks-Cleveland Harshbarger
Their descendants