Thomas Fisher & Elizabeth Huntley Fisher
(New Research has since changed my view of the early part of this)
Thomas Fisher, our earliest fully-proven ancestor, was a lifelong devout Quaker, born about 1690, who lived in Chester County, Pennsylvania all his adult life. In the years preceding his coming of age, he lived in a household not bearing the Fisher name, in or near the Township of Concord. His mother may have been remarried, or he may have been with relatives or family friends. He was a member of Concord Meeting when he married Elizabeth Huntley in 1713, and was the first Fisher to be mentioned in the records of any Friends meeting in Chester County.
Thomas Fisher is most probably the son of John Fisher and wife Barbara, of Chichester Township. This John Fisher was a hatter who was in the area as early as 1685, when he was in a court case with John Calvert at Chester. In 1698, he served on a coronor’s jury in Chester. The jury investigated the drowning of John Barnstill of Newcastle, who was blown overboard from a ferry going from Chester to Philadelphia. Other jurors were Phillip Roman, James Browne, William Clayton, Nathaniel(l) Lampleigh (Lamplugh), Robert Carter, John Kinsman, Thomas Varnon, James Hendrixson, William Hewes, John Hendrixs, and James Baylis. Most of these jurors were Quakers. At least one, Nathaniel Lampleigh came from Barbados. John Fisher died intestate in Chichester Township in 1701. His widow, Barbara Fisher, was named administrator of his estate on March 10, 1701. An abstract of the record is listed among Philadelphia administrations in “Book A,” but the record cannot be found at Philadelphia city hall. John and Barbara Fisher were the only Fishers in Chester County prior to Thomas. They were apparently the right age to be his parents, and lived in the jurisdiction of Concord Monthly Meeting, where Thomas was married. Who were the parents of this John Fisher? Denis Fisher (a ship’s carpenter from Portsmouth, England) and wife Susannah who lived at Salem (across the river in New Jersey), had a son John of the right age, and seem to be the best candidates. They apparently were related to the Fishers of Sussex County. In 1683, Susannah was a midwife at the birth of Robert Claypoole in Sussex County, where John and Margaret Fisher from Lancashire had settled. William Fisher (Esquire) of Sussex County, joint owner of land with Thomas Fisher (son of John and Margaret) was a “cousin to Henry Fisher,” assumed to be Henry, a known son of Denis Fisher.
A corner of Upper Chichester Township lies only half a mile from the Concord boundary, and half a mile from “Fisher’s Corner” in Aston. Chichester also includes Marcus Hook, where Peter Boss was living in 1700 when he sold land in Burlington (New Jersey) town bounds to William Fisher of Burlington. (Peter Boss Jr. witnessed the will of Elizabeth Huntley’s uncle, James Standfield, in 1699. The Standfields were once associated with the “Christian Quaker” separation of George Keith which had involved a sensational heresy trial including Peter Boss Senior.) Elizabeth Huntley’s father (William) and uncle (James Standfield) once had a partnership with Caleb Pusey of Upland. Francis Chads, another uncle of Elizabeth, lived at Chichester at that time.
Note: If John and Barbara Fisher were Quakers, they would have belonged to Chichester Monthly Meeting, which was originally set up to serve the early Quakers of Marcus Hook and Upland (as Chester Monthly Meeting). Later, Chichester became part of Concord Monthly Meeting, whose members alternated their meetings between the Chichester and Concord meeting houses. No meeting records mentioning John and Barbara have been found. Although “Barbara” was not a common name of the time, there are two records of Quaker women of that name.
Barbara Baguley, who married Henry Janney, was the mother-in-law of William Fisher Jr. of Philadelphia, who came with his father in 1684 from Ross, in Herfordshire. There is a also a Quaker account of “The Travels, Sufferings and Persecutions of Barbara Blaugdone (1609?-1704),” in the Swarthmore Friends Library.
If John and Barbara were parents of Thomas Fisher, there is the question of why Thomas did not name any of his known children either John or Barbara. (Several children, names unknown, apparently did die in childhood.) The death of John Fisher, of Chichester, occurred at about the time our Thomas Fisher would have been ready to begin his Quaker schooling, at the customary age of 12. This interruption could be the reason Thomas missed his education and always signed with a mark (X).
Thomas Fisher married Elizabeth Huntley March 16, 1713, at the Concord meeting house, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Her parents were William Huntley and Mary Standfield, who were married in 1692 at Concord. Elizabeth was born in 1692, the eldest of five William Huntley children.
Note: This Thomas Fisher has often been confused with Thomas, son of the immigrant John Fisher of Sussex County who came in 1682. Thomas Fisher of Sussex County, who was some 20 years older than our Thomas, filed a will in 1713. No probate record exists, but court records show all his appointed duties ending abruptly in November of 1713. His widow (Margery Maud Fisher) remained in Sussex County and married Nicholas Green prior to 1717. Nicholas Green may have been the son of Thomas and Margaret Green, of Concord Township in Chester County. The many efforts to discover the origins of our own Thomas Fisher ancestor (of Chester County) might have fared better but for the coincidence of these names. There is a possibility that the two Thomas Fishers were related, but research so far does not support the idea. Thomas Fisher of Chester County, our ancestor, could have been a son of James and Katherine Fisher, of Sussex County, Province of Pennsylvania (now part of Delaware). James was the third son of the immigrant John Fisher, and brother to Thomas and John Fisher Jr. of Sussex County. Only one child of James and Katharine, Sarah, has been identified in record searches to date.
The possibility of our relationship to the Sussex County Fishers is based solely upon circumstantial indications. Firstly, the Standfield in-laws of our Thomas Fisher had many connections with the Sussex County Fishers. Secondly, the best Fisher namesake candidate for James, an older son of our ancestor Thomas Fisher, seems to be James Fisher of Sussex County. In the settlement of the 1699 will of Elizabeth (Huntley) Fisher’s uncle, James Standfield, there is an expense for a 7-day trip “to Broadkiln (Sussex County) to meet the Fishers to settle with them.”
Thomas and Elizabeth moved a short distance, to the west side of Brandywine Creek, soon after their marriage. They transferred their Quaker membership from Concord to the Kennett meeting in 1714. All their children must have been born at Kennett, but the Fishers do not appear in the meeting minutes between 1714 and 1728. At Kennett, the Fishers were surrounded by Elizabeth’s relatives. Her sisters Deborah, Mary and Sarah Huntley all married at Kennett, and her only brother, Frances Huntley, died there, unmarried, in 1723. Four of Elizabeth’s Standfield relatives lived within a few miles of the Fisher farm. Elizabeth (Standfield) Hope lived at Kennett; Hannah (Standfield) Few and the Few cousins lived adjacent to the Fisher farm; cousin John Chads lived a few miles to the east, at the Brandywine ford in Birmingham Township, and Sarah (Standfield) Bennett lived in Thornbury Township, just east of Birmingham.
The minor Huntley children were supposed to go to Thomas and Elizabeth
Hope and Edward and Sarah Bennett when William Huntley died in 1708, but
unfortunately Thomas Hope also died
Children mentioned in Thomas Fisher’s will were William, James, Elizabeth, Samuel, Thomas, Francis and Mary.
1. William, b. 8 May 1714, mar. Deborah Roberts, 24 Oct 1739, at Kennett;
d. 30 Mar. 1748 at Kennett.
Susannah Fisher, who was at the weddings of the two oldest, was probably another of the older children, born about 1717. She seems to have died before 1740. Her name is of interest, since it suggests an aunt of that name. Samuel Atkins and his wife Annie (Susannah?) Fisher are possible namesakes of two of the children. A more likely namesake for Susannah might be Susannah, granddaughter of Denis Fisher (of Salem, New Jersey), possible sister of Thomas Fisher.
The years from 1714 to 1728 were busy ones for the Fishers. The heavily forested land had to be cleared and broken for planting, the house and barns were built, and children arrived. Elizabeth suffered the loss of her only brother, Francis, in 1723. The Kennett Friends meeting had to be faithfully supported, and Thomas would have been called upon to help when the Kennett meeting house was remodeled in 1719. Elizabeth did find time to visit her home meeting of Concord in 1716 to attend the wedding of Samuel Painter and Elizabeth Buxcey, and Thomas accepted a civil appointment in 1725, as overseer of the poor in Kennett Township. The last Huntley sister was married off in 1727. The Fishers managed to avoid any controversy or transgression that would have brought them mention in the meeting records of this period. Most of the Fisher birth records are missing, but there is a record of the oldest son William’s 1714 birth date, which was entered years later, after his death. Thomas Fisher’s tax rates for Kennett Township have been found for many of the years from 1715 until he moved to East Caln in 1742. (Colonial tax records for Chester County after 1740 are lost.)
1715 1S/10d 1722 7S/6d 1729 5S 1736
Thomas Fisher was also on the tax list for Haverford Township in 1732 (2S6d). The reason for this is unknown.
Several small children of Thomas and Elizabeth must have died about 1727. There is a long gap in the apparent ages of the children, based upon the marriage dates. One would expect the grandparents and parents to be honored with the first four children’s births. A child named for Thomas Fisher’s mother may have been one of those that died, as well as early children named Thomas and Mary, whose names were used again later. Unfortunately, the Kennett birth records for most of Thomas Fisher’s children are missing.
When Thomas and Elizabeth settled at Kennett in 1714, they apparently took possession of the 200 acres of public land which had been surveyed for William Huntley in 1703, but never filed for, in what is now the Parkersville rural community in Pennsbury, a short distance north of the old Kennett Meeting House. The land was bounded on the west by the Zarobabel Thatcher land, on the south by William Webb, on the East by the Harlan family, and on the north by the Parker, Few, Joseph Taylor, and Harlan families. James and Daniel Few were cousins of Elizabeth, as were the Bennetts who lived nearby. A view of what may be the homesite can be found at the present intersection of Street Road and Graychalk Road. Deeds for the land were signed by both Thomas and Elizabeth by their marks, showing that neither were educated.
There is a possibility that the Taylor neighbors were relatives of Thomas Fisher. Philadelphia Monthly Meeting records show the marriage of Joseph Taylor to Sarah Fisher, daughter of John, 30th of 1st month 1716. Sarah was a daughter of the John Fisher who came in 1700 from Pardshaw Crag meeting in Cumberland, northwest England, and settled in Philadelphia County. John’s wife is believed to have been named Sarah. Children appearing in the Quaker records were Sarah, John (m. Mary Hodge 1728), Hannah (d. 1714), Love (d. 1706), and Mary (d. 1724). A Joseph Taylor (son of Joseph?) was a near neighbor of Thomas and Elizabeth Fisher in Kennett, his farm being adjacent at the northeast part of the Fisher farm. Accounts were due to Joseph Taylor, mentioned in his estate settlement of 1740, from James Fisher (1 shilling threepence) and Thomas Fisher (1 shilling). If this Joseph was a relative of Sarah Fisher Taylor, a connection of some sort might be implied with John Fisher of Pardshaw. However, a preliminary study of the Taylors has not borne this out. No Fisher connections have been discovered in the area during or prior to Thomas Fisher’s residency.
In 1735 Thomas bought 15 acres on the northern boundary of his land from Ruth Harlan, probably to gain access to the creek near Street Road and Parkersville Road. Thomas was on the Kennett tax lists beginning in 1715, and finally obtained a Patent from the Penn brothers for the public land in 1739, for “two English Shillings per year quitrent.” Thomas farmed the land with his two oldest sons, William and James, until 1740. After marrying in 1736, James farmed the lower 81 acres of the patent. After William married in 1739, he farmed the upper 119 acres of the patent. In 1740 all the land was indentured to the oldest son William, but Thomas sold the lower part in 1740 to William Webb for 140 pounds, and all the Fishers except William moved 20 miles northward to East Caln. The Quaker meeting records are silent concerning the Fishers from 1714 until 1728. From 1728 onward, the meeting records of Kennett and Caln (Bradford Monthly Meeting) are filled with references to Thomas and Elizabeth and their family.
In June of 1728, Thomas Fisher and his wife’s cousin James Few were chastised by Kennett meeting, apparently for threatening to bring suit against each other in a civil court. This almost certainly would have concerned the boundaries of the Fisher and Few lands which adjoined at the northeast part of the Fisher claim. After months of persuasion by the Quakers, Thomas read a statement to the congregation, which was accepted as giving satisfaction.
“1728 4th of 11th Mo. At our Monthly Meeting of Newark held at Center. The ffrnd appointed to read the Testimony given into Last meeting by Tho: ffisher report he hath done it which here under followeth.”
“To the Monthly Meeting of Newark held at Kennett ye 7th of ye 11th moth 1728. Inasmuch as I have been guilty of fetching a warent for one in Communion with me Contrary to the good order Established amongst us for which disorderly act I am sorrey and gives this as a testimony against the same as witness my hand. Thomas ffisher.”
In 1740, Joseph Wilkinson, from an Irish family at Caln, a few miles north of Kennett, came to Kennett to marry Elizabeth Jr., the oldest daughter. Joseph and Elizabeth went to Caln to live. The following year, second son James and wife Alice also moved to Caln. In 1742, Thomas and Elizabeth followed, with their three younger children. The oldest son, William, stayed on the farm in Kennett. The teen-aged son Samuel stayed on with William and worked on the Kennett farm another season before joining the family in Caln. The Fishers settled in East Caln, at the site of the present village of Fisherville, near Coatesville. They were members of Bradford Monthly Meeting, which met alternately at the Caln meeting house (near Coatesville) and Bradford meeting house (near Marshallton). Thomas Sr. became a leader at Caln and was named overseer of Caln Meeting. After he died, his widow Elizabeth became overseer. Later, Thomas Jr. was overseer.
Thomas Fisher and his sons became very successful farmers, and must have controlled almost 700 acres of land in the 1740’s. In addition to the original land at Kennett, records show warrants for 200 acres to William in 1742, and 200 acres to James in 1743. Thomas and wife Elizabeth owned 250 acres of land when he died April 3, 1747. His will was proved August 27, 1747, and is filed in Will Book B. Page 228, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Thomas gave his third son, Samuel (the oldest unmarried son), 150 acres of land, 100 acres to the fourth son, Thomas Jr., and smaller bequests to the other children. Caln Meeting records contain a plea to settle a claim by the heirs of Samuel Pyle, deceased, against the estate of Thomas Fisher. The Quakers ruled that “the debt shall be paid,” which it was.
In 1748, the widower John Cope proposed marriage to the widow Elizabeth Fisher. Considerable hesitation followed, with delays attributed to various indispositions and floods. Elizabeth eventually consented, and may have had some regrets. She gained a stepson, who immediately disgraced himself with a woman.
Elizabeth Jr.’s in-laws, the Wilkinsons, also proved to be somewhat of an embarrassment to the family. Joseph and his brother Evan both had a history of bad debts. Evan was the worst, with repeated bad debts and disorderly conduct.
The “good order” of the Quakers seems to have been more difficult
to maintain during these years at Caln. Even Thomas Fisher Jr. was disciplined
for drinking to excess on one occasion, and was questioned about debts
on another. The records are filled with incidents (concerning other members)
such as drinking too much, running a tavern, “shooting on the first
day of the week,” joining a military training association, hiring
a hand to plow while driving a team for the
Thomas Jr., Francis and Samuel all went briefly to New Garden Monthly Meeting to marry, but settled in East Caln. Francis moved back to New Garden in 1761 with his wife and three children. James and wife Alice, with five children, moved west of the Susquehanna in 1762, to Newberry township, just southwest of Harrisburg in York County, where they joined the Warrington Meeting. The youngest daughter, Mary, married at Uwchlan.
Mary Standfield, mother of Elizabeth Huntley Fisher, was the daughter of Francis and Grace Standfield. Francis Standfield, a Quaker, was a “husbandman” (farmer) who brought his family to Pennsylvania from Cheshire, England in 1683. Francis had been subjected to religious persecution in England, and was arrested in 1670 for attending a meeting at Carthorpe (Cartop). The Standfields arrived at Philadelphia July 29, 1683, aboard the ketch “Endeavor” of Liverpool, George Thorpe, Master. The Endeavor was one of the ships that brought many of the original Quaker settlers to the Pennsylvania Province beginning in 1682. William Penn made at least one voyage on the Endeavor, when he returned to England in 1684. Francis and his wife, Grace, brought with them five children, James, Mary, Sarah, Elizabeth, Grace and Hannah; and eight servants, Daniel Browne, Thomas Massey (Marsey), Isa. Brookesby, Robert Sidbotham, John Smith, Robert Bryan, William Rudway and Thomas Sidbotham. A sixth child, Deborah, seems to have been born after the arrival in Pennsylvania.
The Standfields were among the earliest settlers of the township of Marple, just west of Philadelphia between Darby Creek and Crum Creek. Francis and son James had numerous land holdings and were active in the community. Francis was an assemblyman for Chester County in 1685, and son James gained wealth and prominance until his untimely death in the 1699 yellow fever epidemic. Grace died in 1691 and Francis followed a year later. They had emigrated from Gorton, Cheshire, in the Manchester area, but had lived at Marthill and Marple, Cheshire, and Carthorpe (Cartop), Yorkshire. Francis was probably from the Yorkshire Stansfield family, who were early Quakers in and around Halifax Parish, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
The many ties between the Standfields and the Fishers of Sussex County provide the strongest indication that our Thomas Fisher of Chester County may have been related to the family of the immigrant John Fisher. The Standfield (Stansfield) family seat in Halifax Parish, West Yorkshire, was only a few miles from Clitheroe in Lancashire, where the Fishers and Hindles lived before their emigration. The Standfields brought a crate of window glass when they came, which would have been needed by the glazier John Fisher. The Standfields had an active trading company, in which the Fishers of Sussex nd Kent County had major dealings.
When James Standfield, son of Francis, died in 1699, a bond of 150 pounds (a very large amount for the time) was due from William and Thomas Fisher of Sussex County. The ship-building supplies and artisans mentioned in the John Fisher family tradition could have been associated with the two-masted ship, the brigantine “Betsy,” owned by the trading company. James Standfield owned a large tract of land next to the Fishers in Sussex County, where a “carpenter’s shipyard” was located.
When the Standfield estates and trading company were liquidated in 1699, one of the assets was a part interest in the house of Samuel Atkins, son-in-law to the immigrant John Fisher. This was probably the house and lot in Philadelphia which had been deeded to Samuel by John Fisher in 1683, possibly on the occasion of Samuel’s marriage to Annie Fisher.
Samuel Atkins took James Standfield as an apprentice to learn the shipping trade, and bought land on or near the original Standfield estate in Marple. Samuel divided his time between Sussex County and Philadelphia, and arranged leases of whaling vessels for companies such as that of John McGiver. James Standfield and Samuel Atkins had houses and property near one another on the Philadelphia waterfront. Samuel’s business sometimes took him on return trips to England. In 1699, Samuel Atkins sold his land in Marple to John Worral, who was the Standfield’s neighbor to the north, where the present-day “Worral Estates” are located.
Samuel Atkins may have died at the same time as James Standfield, since no records of Samuel can be found after 1699. Both apparently succumbed to the yellow fever epidemic of 1699. In the James Standfield estate settlement, there is a payment to the “surgeon in Samuel Atkins’ house.” For further details concerning the Standfields, see “The Francis Standfield Family of Colonial Pennsylvania” by this author, and “Marple Township, the First 100 Years.”
William Huntley, father of Elizabeth Huntley Fisher, was probably the William Huntley who was born in 1661, the son of William Huntley and Elizabeth Cowe of St. Philips, Barbados. He came to Pennsylvania prior to 1691, and lived in Birmingham Township, near the present Chadds Ford village on the Brandywine. William belonged to the Birmingham Friends Meeting, and went before the Concord Monthly Meeting in 1692 to propose marriage to Mary Standfield. Shortly after the marriage, Mary’s father, Francis Standfield died and left William a 25-acre tract from the Standfield estate in Marple, at the intersection of the present Sproul Road and Lawrence Road. William also had a tract in Falls Township, Bucks County which appears in the tax list for 1693.
Just across the Marple Road from the Huntley land was the estate of Ebeneazor Longshaw (Longford, Langford), who had come from Barbados, perhaps bringing William Huntley at the same time. The Standfields later bought out all the Longshaw estate. In 1696, William Huntley temporarily took in the “orphan of Thomas Longshaw” as an indentured servant, while the court awaited the arrival of an unnamed immigrant who was to take the orphan in service. A possibility is suggested that the Longshaws could have been relatives of Thomas Fisher’s mother, or of the Huntleys or Standfields.
Thomas Longshaw owned land in Wilmington, in the constabulary of Newcastle Town, on the north side of Christina Creek, as early as 1685. James Standfield, uncle of Elizabeth Huntley Fisher, also owned land at the same location, along with his friends and trading associates including John Collet, Thomas Pierson (surveyor), James Read, and the merchant brothers James and Hercules Coutts. Thomas Green, whose (supposed) son Nicholas would marry the widow of the Sussex County Thomas Fisher (son of the immigrant John and brother of James), also had property at the same place.
In 1700, William Huntley sold his land in Marple to Peter Worrall, and returned to Birmingham with his family. William obtained a survey in 1703 for 200 acres in Chester County, described in the “History of Chester County” as being in the part of Kennett that is now Pennsbury, near the Brandywine. That description sounds much like the land settled by Thomas Fisher in 1714, for which he requested and received a proprietary grant in 1739. The Huntleys sold their Birmingham house and plantation in 1705, and moved a few miles to the west, across the Brandywine, to Kennett Township.
The Huntleys had five children, Elizabeth, Francis, Deborah, Mary and Sarah.
1. Elizabeth, m. first Thomas Fisher, 1713. She married 2nd, John Cope,
William Huntley died at Kennett in 1708, stipulating in his will that
his minor children be sent to his wife’s married sisters in Thornbury
and Birmingham. The widow Mary returned briefly to Marple and then to
Birmingham in 1709, where she and daughter Elizabeth were members of Concord
meeting until Thomas Fisher married Elizabeth there in 1713. Elizabeth’s
mother, the widow Mary Standfield Huntley, remarried in the fall of 1713,
to Richard Fletcher and lived at least until 1736, when she attended the
wedding of son James.
The Francis Standfield estate house, a two-story log structure, still
stands in 1995 and has been restored by covering the logs. It is a private
residence, located on Crum Creek Road near Marple Road, in the village
of Marple, Chester County, Pennsylvania. A brick house on McClarie Street
nearby is also believed to be a Standfield house.