More About J. L. Fisher’s Thomas Fisher Research
I began to see a possible Irish origin for Thomas Fisher of Chester County, Pennsylvania when I found the marriage record for Thomas Robinson and Elizabeth Fisher in southeast Dublin County and discovered that they lived in the same neighborhood as Joseph Fisher who came to Pennsylvania in 1683. All the Fishers in Dublin County of that period would have been English, and we know that Joseph Fisher was from Cheshire. My new book, “Searching for the Ancestors of Thomas Fisher,” will include all the records I found. The following summary material is taken from the book.
This book is for all the descendants and possible relatives of the immigrant Thomas Fisher, who obtained land jointly with Thomas Robinson in Chester County, Pennsylvania in early 1701 and who married Elizabeth Huntley there in 1713. It should also be useful in tracing other Fishers of colonial Pennsylvania to their old-world beginnings. The findings from many years of research are collected here for study.
There are not enough surviving records to support a guaranteed pedigree for Thomas Fisher of Chester County, but there are numerous records which support a possible explanation of his family history. I have described the records I found, and have commented upon what I believe they imply. Readers should make their own judgments. In a nutshell, this is what I have concluded:
I think Thomas Fisher of Chester County, Pennsylvania may have been one of the English/Irish Fishers of Dublin County, Ireland, with roots along the Mersey River in England and places to the north of there. The Mersey bounded old Lancashire on its north bank and Cheshire on the south bank. The Fishers were in the Mersey valley as early as the late 1500s. The population centers of influence were Liverpool and Manchester on the Lancashire side, and Chester on the Cheshire side.
As early as 1598, a William Fisher lived at Elton in Thornton-Le-Moors Parish on the Cheshire side of the Mersey, a little upstream from Liverpool and not far from Chester. The Fishers in the area were good Church of England members, and one of them was churchwarden at Stoak beginning in 1642. There were early Fishers in the fishing villages of Ince, Sutton and Frodsham, all near Elton. William Fisher of Elton married a wife Margaret who was the mother of Joseph Fisher, born in 1635, a known immigrant to Ireland and Pennsylvania, and a number of other children. A Robinson family were neighbors of the Fishers at Elton, and other Robinsons lived in the adjoining parishes.
By 1659, some of the Mersey River Fishers had moved into Ireland. Joseph, Martha and Mary Fisher, three of the children of William and Margaret Fisher, cast their lot with the new Quaker movement begun by George Fox, thereby becoming illegal dissenters from the lawful Church of England. It is not clear whether the parents or other children also left Elton. Margaret Fisher who died in Dublin in 1669 may have been the mother from Elton. Some of the Robinsons and other Fisher relatives may have gone to Ireland, but if they wavered between membership in the established church and the Quakers in Ireland, the records would have been more obscure. Among the Quakers, Mary married in County Louth, Martha married in Rosenallis, County Queens, and Joseph married in Dublin. In Dublin County, only the family of Joseph Fisher, born in Elton, Cheshire, appears in the Quaker records. Although the other Dublin County Fishers appear only in the Church of Ireland (Anglican) records, some delayed baptisms suggest that some of them had previously been Quakers.
The Elton Fishers went from County Louth to Rosenallis in County Queens, then settled in Dublin County and became part of the merchant class there. Joseph, son of William, married at Rathfarnum in 1671 and lived in Stillorgan Parish, probably a tenant on the Stillorgan estate which included Stillorgan Castle, in an area outside Dublin where well-to-do merchants of Dublin often had country houses. His business partner in Dublin was Robert Turner, a wealthy draper (dealer in cloth goods), who was also his brother-in-law. Thomas Robinson and Elizabeth Fisher lived two miles from Joseph Fisher in Dublin County, in the village of Carrickmaine. They married there in 1672. They may have been the ones of the same names born at Sutton near Elton in Cheshire. Also close by, in fishing villages or military garrisons, were Thomas Fisher of Dun Leary (Laoghaire) and Thomas Fisher of Killiney, possible relatives of both Elizabeth Fisher Robinson and Joseph Fisher from Cheshire.
By 1682 Joseph Fisher of Stillorgan and Robert Turner of Dublin had decided to immigrate together to America. They recruited 28 indentured servants at the Port of Dublin and may have had to go to Liverpool for departure. They negotiated a joint purchase of 10,000 acres in Pennsylvania from William Penn. Francis Standfield of Cheshire also bought land from Penn, in 1681, and took his wife (nee Grace Achele of Worcester) and family to the village of Garston near Liverpool to prepare for emigration. (I think the record is in error which says “Gorton in Cheshire,” which has never existed.) The Fishers and Standfields may have been in brief attendance together at the Quaker meeting at Hardshaw, and the families would later become linked when Thomas Fisher of Chester County, possible relative of Joseph Fisher, married Elizabeth Huntley, granddaughter of Francis Standfield. In the summer of 1683, two ships from Liverpool departed with the Fishers and Standfields among the passengers. The Standfields embarked on the “Endeavor” and arrived in Philadelphia at the end of August; the Fishers took the “Lion” and arrived two weeks later.
In 1685 George Fisher (almost certainly a relative of Joseph Fisher) and some of the Irish Robinsons bound themselves to Jaspar Farmer of Cork, a former army major who served with Oliver Cromwell in his suppression of the Irish rebellion. They boarded the “Bristol Comfort” and arrived in Philadelphia in November of 1685. Thomas Robinson and George Fisher appear in the records of Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1688. Thomas Robinson may have come on the “Tryall,” a brigantine with which he had some association.
We may never know with certainty which of several Thomas Fishers of Dublin County may have come to Pennsylvania. We do know that the Fisher and Robinson families of southeast Dublin County were linked by marriage, and that they were neighbors of the Joseph Fisher family who immigrated in 1683 to Philadelphia. My own opinion as of this writing is that the immigrant may have been Thomas Fisher, son of Thomas and Rosamond (Coaker) Fisher of Dun Leary (Dun Laoghaire), Monkstown Parish, Dublin County, Ireland, christened April 30, 1682. He may have been related to the immigrant Joseph Fisher, and also to Elizabeth (Fisher) Robinson of Dublin County, wife of Thomas Robinson.
Thomas Fisher (Sr.) of Dun Leary, or one of the other Fishers from the area, may have immigrated about 1699. The last record of Thomas Fisher of Dun Leary in Dublin County was in 1698. Thomas Fisher Sr. would have been age 67 when he joined with Thomas Robinson to request land on the west side of Brandywine Creek in 1700/01. It is doubtful that either of them lived on the land at that time. I think Thomas Fisher Sr. and most of his family may have lived at Chichester in Chester County, where a John Fisher died in 1701. Thomas Fisher Jr. may have first gone to James and Thomas Robinson near Mill Creek, Newcastle County, not far below the Kennett Township line, before returning to Chester County to join the Quakers of Chichester and Concord. I think the Fishers must have been from Cromwell’s military garrisons in Dublin County; the woolen and linen trades; or fishing/shipping business there.
The Robinsons and Fishers may have attended the Immanuel Anglican Church in Newcastle County. James Robinson, possible relative of Thomas Robinson, was a churchwarden there in 1710. Thomas Robinson apparently never became a Quaker, but Thomas Fisher of Chester County was a Quaker by 1713. Thomas Fisher and Elizabeth Huntley, both members of Concord Monthly Meeting, married in May of 1713. If Thomas Fisher was Thomas (Jr.) of Dun Leary, he had just turned age 31. He received little or no schooling. The Fishers took up residence on the Robinson/Fisher tract in Kennett Township in 1714. Thomas Robinson shared the tax assessment of 1715 with Thomas Fisher, then probably died soon after. By 1739, the entire farm was in possession of Thomas and Elizabeth Fisher. My family are among their many known descendants.
Two of Thomas Fisher’s children in Pennsylvania married Irish immigrants, and some of his closest neighbors were from Ireland. When he died in Chester County in 1747, both witnesses to his will were Irish. One was William Pim, whose forebears were among the original founders of Quakerism in Ireland.
J. L. Fisher
Sophie Fisher of Flint, Michigan, who found and shared the 1701 land warrant from William Penn to Thomas Robinson and Thomas Fisher, shared many other findings, and explored remote marshlands in support of one of my theories.
Susan Kimura of West Jordan, Utah, a frequent visitor at the Mormon Family History Library at Salt Lake City, who shared her findings.
Pamela Bradley of Research Ireland, County Wicklow, who helped with the obscure Irish records and place names.
Dr. John L. (Jack) Fisher of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, who provided photographs of the Ohio descendants of Thomas Fisher. These were from the collection of his sister, Erma (Fisher) Nordin.
Noble Shaw, my first cousin, who joined in library trips, and provided photographs of the (Quaker) New Hope Meeting House and environs in Greene County, Tennessee.
My patient wife Janice, who traveled with me to ancestral sites, read the drafts, and never complained.
The gracious and helpful ladies at the Quaker Family History Library on Bloomfield Avenue in Dublin.
Registers of Thornton le Moors Parish, Cheshire & adjoining parishes
in Cheshire (samples):
Friends Historical Library, Dublin, Dublin Monthly Meeting Minute Books (not available in USA). 1681, 16 of 6 mo George Robinson this day layd before friends his intentions of Going to America…
Quaker Family History Library, Dublin, Ireland, Certificate of Removal
for Joseph Fisher, 1683:
History of Ireland (various sources):
Note: Stillorgan and all the villages with Fisher/Robinson records in the parishes of the Union of Monkstown are close together. Residents used the same cemetery and protestant church in Monkstown.
Some Irish Associations
Thomas Robinson, of Tully Parish, Dublin County in Ireland, may have come to Philadelphia aboard the “Tryall,” with Samuel Harrison of Dublin County. In 1664, a Thomas Robinson shipped from London to “New England” as a merchant on the “Tryall.” In June of 1688 Thomas Robinson served on a jury in Chester County, Pennsylvania. In September of the same year, he was charged in the provincial court in Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania concerning an altercation aboard the “Tryall.” The record says “Thomas Robins (Robinson) and Thomas Woodmans (Woodmansee or Woodmanson) being convicted before John Bristow for drunkenness, breach of peace, breaking ye great cabin door and ye head of Samuel Harrison, mate on board of ye Ship Tryall was for ye same called to ye bar but upon their submission to ye Court was ordered to pay 5s/ with all court charges.” The injured mate, Samuel Harrison, came from Dublin, Ireland and settled on the east side of the Delaware in West Jersey. (The “Tryall” made at least 30 Atlantic crossings by the time of its last known trip in 1736. Over half the trips embarked from (or near) Bristol.)
Two of the older children of Thomas Fisher, of Chester County, married Irish immigrants from near Belfast. James married Alice Stanfield, daughter of Samuel Stanfield and Jane (Andrew) Stanfield, who came from Lurgan Monthly Meeting, at the lower end of Lake Neagh near Belfast in northern Ireland. (Samuel Stanfield is now known to have been born in Cheshire near where the Francis Standfield family lived.) Elizabeth married Joseph Wilkinson, who came from Ballynacree in Antrim County, northeast Ireland. Ballynacree More and Beg (large and small) are adjoining townlands in the parish of Ballymoney, about 40 miles northwest of Belfast. There was a monthly meeting of the Quakers in Antrim Parish and also at Ballynacree.
Some of the Robinsons of Chester, Newcastle and Kent counties in Pennsylvania/Delaware are known to have come from Ireland, and some of their descendants lived in Concord, Birmingham and Kennett townships in Chester County where Thomas and Elizabeth Fisher and her relatives were active. A teen-age Thomas Robinson, probably born in 1682, began a term of indenture in 1695 with Nathaniel Newlin of Concord Township. The Newlins had immigrated from Mountmellick in Rosenallis Parish, Queens County, Ireland, 45 miles west southwest of Dublin, the same place where Joseph Fisher’s sister Martha was married in 1665. Both Joseph Fisher and the Newlins immigrated in 1683.
The Harland family, close neighbors of Thomas Fisher in Kennett, came from County Down in northeast Ireland, but were originally from Monkwearmouth at Sunderland, County Durham, England. A record has now been found of a William Huntley who was born in the same place, who may have been William Huntley, Thomas Fisher’s father-in-law.
Henry Hollingsworth, who surveyed the Thomas Robinson/Thomas Fisher tract in Chester County in 1701, immigrated with Joseph Fisher and Robert Turner of Dublin County, Ireland. The Hollingsworths were related to the Andrew family of Ireland, as was Thomas Fisher’s daughter-in-law Alice Stanfield Fisher.
Zerobabel Thatcher, a neighbor of Thomas Fisher in Kennett, was a probable son of Jonathan Thatcher, who came in 1685 aboard the same ship as George Fisher of Ireland.
When Thomas Fisher wrote his will in Caln Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1747, two Irish immigrants were witnesses. Thomas Paine was from Durrow near Kilkenny, southwest of Dublin. William Pim was from County Laois (Leix/Queens) in the same area.
My own Fisher grandfather was Florance Clinton Fisher (1886 - 1966), descendant of Thomas Fisher of Chester County. He related a family tradition which I will repeat here, although I have avoided any assumption that it is correct. My grandfather told me that, as a boy in Iowa, he had seen old family records going back to Ireland, which were left outdoors in a trunk and were ruined. When he was about 9 years old, his own grandfather (Cephas Fisher Jr.) told him about his Irish ancestors shortly before his death in 1895. The story was that an estate of some consequence was seized for taxes in Ireland, and that the ancestors had come to Ireland from England. (His sister Mary, my Great-Aunt, told me the same story). Since he was descended from James Fisher, son of Thomas, he had English-Irish ancestors from the north of Ireland, via Alice Stanfield, wife of James Fisher. This could have been the real family memory rather than the Fisher line, but I now tend to believe the Iowa generation did know the complete history (now forgotten except for modern research).
Thomas Fisher and Thomas Robinson may have met James Standfield due to
the merchant business of Joseph Fisher, immigrant from Stillorgan (Union
of Monkstown), Dublin County, Ireland. The Joseph Fisher waterfront lot
in Philadelphia was only three berths above that of James Standfield and
his brigantine “Betsy.” James Standfield was an uncle of Elizabeth
(Huntley) Fisher, who became the wife of the younger Thomas Fisher of
Kennett, Chester County. Thomas Fisher (Sr.) of Dun Leary was of middle
age when James Standfield died in 1699. Thomas Fisher (Jr.) of Dun Leary
would have been age 17.