Searching for the Ancestors of Thomas Fisher of Chester County, Pennsylvania
by Jackie L. Fisher, January 2004
This study describes investigations made in an effort to solve a long-standing mystery concerning the origins of Thomas Fisher, who married Elizabeth Huntley in Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1713. A new solution is proposed, and all the families which were studied are discussed. The notes collected during the study are included for reference and further study.
See also related titles by Jackie L. Fisher:
Descendants and Ancestors of Cephas Fisher Jr. (1812-1895),
LDS Film 2055284 Item 16 (1995)
I. Introduction 11
II. Thomas Fisher’s Origins in England and Ireland 13
III. Thomas Fisher in Kennett 43
IV. Thomas Fisher in Calne 52
George Fisher, Immigrant on the Bristol Merchant
VI. Neighbors in Pennsylvania 63
Andrew, Budd, Chambers, Dicks/Dix, Evans, Few, Fletcher, Harland, Harris/Harry,
VII. Updates to Previous Books 84 Cephas Fisher Sr. Land in Indiana 87
Appendix -- Documents and Notes 101
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 judgements. 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. This may be relevant to later events which are explored in this book.
By 1659, some of the Mersey River Fishers had moved into Ireland. Joseph, Martha and Mary Fisher, and possibly other 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 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 some of them apparently wavered between membership in the established church and the Quakers in Ireland, making the records more obscure. Among the Quakers, Mary married in County Louth, Martha married in Rosenallis, County Queens, and Joseph married in Dublin County. 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 in the Robert Fisher family and marriages one day apart of Thomas and Robert all appear to be legalization of previous Quaker marriages.
The Elton Fishers went from County Louth to Rosenallis in County Queens, then settled in southeast Dublin County and became part of the merchant class of Dublin. Joseph, son of William, married at Rathfarnum in 1671 and lived soon after in Stillorgan Parish, probably a tenant on the Stillorgan estate (site of the Stillorgan Castle ruins.) His business partner in Dublin County was the Quaker Robert Turner, a “traveling clothier” from the Yorkshire linen industry who became a wealthy draper and married Martha Fisher (sister of Joseph).
In the 1670’s Thomas Robinson, Thomas Fisher, and Elizabeth Fisher all lived in the village of Carrickmaine, two miles from Joseph Fisher in Dublin County. Thomas Robinson and Elizabeth Fisher married in 1672, and she died in childbirth in 1679. Living nearby were several Fisher families at Dun Leary (Laoghaire), Leopardstown, Glanagary and Killiney, who appear to have been connected.
By 1682 Joseph Fisher of Stillorgan and his brother-in-law Robert Turner 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. In England, 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 family to the village of Gorton, Garston or Garton near Liverpool or Manchester. (I think the record is in error which says “Garton in Cheshire,” which has never existed, but it may have been Gorton at the edge of Manchester, almost but not quite in a tip of Cheshire, or Garston near Liverpool, across the Mersey river from north Cheshire.) The Fishers and Standfields could have been in brief attendance together at the Quaker meeting at Hardshaw near Liverpool, but no record was found. The Fisher and Standfield families were linked in 1713 when Thomas Fisher of Chester County 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 Joseph Fisher family 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.
We may never know with certainty which of several Thomas Fishers of southeast Dublin County may have come to Pennsylvania. We do know that Elizabeth Fisher married Thomas Robinson in 1672 and lived near Joseph Fisher, who immigrated in 1683 to Philadelphia. I think there is an excellent chance that Thomas, Joseph, Elizabeth, John, and Robert Fisher, young adults who lived near Monkstown in the 1670’s, were of our ancestral family. They may have been siblings.
Thomas Robinson may have emigrated aboard the “Tryall,” a brigantine with which he had some association. Thomas Robinson and a George Fisher appear in the records of Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1688, and a John Fisher was there before 1700. A Thomas Fisher was in Carrickmaine at least until 1681, when a son Robert was born. After that, he left Carrickmaine. He or one of the other Thomas Fishers of the area could have emigrated with Thomas Robinson or at a later time. The immigrant Thomas Fisher was probably the one who obtained land in Chester County in early 1701, and Thomas who lived on the land by 1713/14 was probably his son. They could have been Thomas Sr. & Jr. of Dun Leary, who appear in the Monkstown church records.
Upon arrival in Pennsylvania, the Robinsons and Fishers may have attended the Immanuel Anglican Church in Newcastle County (now part of Delaware). 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. 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.
The Robinson/Fisher land in Pennsylvania was first surveyed by an Irish surveyor. 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.
All this seems to support my own grandfather's statement to me that his Fisher ancestors came from a place in Ireland that had a castle. Monkstown Castle can still be visited, and there were once small castle ruins at Stillorgan and Carrickmaine.
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.
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.
In 1995 I completed an initial study of my Fisher ancestral line which extends back to Thomas Fisher of Chester County, Pennsylvania, who married Elizabeth Huntley in 1713. The 1995 findings can be found in the set of books listed in the frontispiece of this volume. The story of Thomas Fisher and Elizabeth Huntley as I then understood it is included in those references.
Large numbers of Fishers can trace their descent from Thomas and Elizabeth Fisher, and several claims and surmises have been made by various researchers as to the origin of Thomas. None have been proven correct, and some can now be ruled out.* I have searched extensively since 1995 in an effort to discover more about Thomas Fisher, and have found additional information (with the invaluable help of some other researchers).
A study was made of all the known Fishers of the early settlements around the Delaware and Chesapeake bays, and many Fishers of Ireland, England and other places. Neighbors, relatives and associates of the Chester County Fishers were studied for clues regarding Thomas Fisher’s life. I have included the results of all the studies in this book, as an aid to others doing Fisher research.
The search for Thomas Fisher’s origins finally led to the Union of Monkstown, Dublin County in Ireland, and to places in England before that. I am now reasonably certain that Thomas Fisher of Chester County, Pennsylvania came from the Fishers of Cheshire and Dublin County.
J. L. Fisher, January 2004.
*For those who think Thomas Fisher of Chester County (who married Elizabeth Huntley in 1713 at Concord Monthly Meeting) was the same as Thomas, son of John and Margaret Fisher of Lewes in Sussex County, Delaware (originally part of Pennsylvania): This notion is easily disproved, but unfortunately it is one which is widely believed and is being compounded by researchers who have not checked the source records. The records are quite clear: Thomas Fisher of Sussex County left a detailed will dated 17 November 1713, which is reproduced in Anna Wharton Smith’s book, “Genealogy of the Fisher Family,” 1896. His last act as registrar of lands in Sussex County was in November of 1713, after which a replacement was named (Land Records of Sussex County). Any doubt that he died soon after is dispelled by the fact that his widow, Margery (Maud) Fisher, had remarried by February of 1718, to Nicholas Green of Sussex County. A Sussex County land record in that month named Margery Green, wife of Nicholas, and Jabez Maud Fisher, son of Margery Green. The record can be found on LDS Film 0006626, land records of Sussex County. Thomas Fisher of Chester County had a long and well-documented life, and died in 1747 in East Caln, Chester County. His will is number 1051, Chester County Wills.
*Another well-known theory, put forth by Benjamin Cummings in “A
Fisher Family of Chester County, Pa.”, 1898, LDS Film 1033648, is
that Thomas Fisher was Thomas, son of the Quakers John Fisher and Sarah
(Hutchins) Fisher of Barmstone on the eastern shore of Yorkshire. Cummings
questioned the accuracy of an earlier work by Thomas Potts, “Our
Family Ancestors,” 1895, LDS Film 962253. But the Quaker records
of Hull in Yorkshire (LDS Film 588433) agree with Potts, showing clearly
that Thomas, son of John and Sarah Fisher of Barmstone died there in 1735.
?William Fisher Of Frodsham Parish, Cheshire b. ca 1612, (Manley, Frodsham, Cheshire?)
?Thomas Fisher Of Cheshire (& Dublin County?) Chr. Sep 29, 1633, Manley, Frodsham, Cheshire
?Thomas Fisher Of Dun Leary, Dublin Co. Ire. b. ca 1658, (Ballyboys,
Ballymascanlon, Co. Louth?
Thomas Fisher Of Ireland & Pennsylvania Chr. Apr 30, 1682 Dun Leary,
Dublin Co., Ireland?
James Fisher b. 1715, Kennett, Chester Co., Pa.
James Fisher b. Jul 18, 1744, East Caln, Chester Co., Pa.
Cephas Fisher Sr. b. Apr 12, 1778, Monahan, York Co., Pa.
Cephas A. Fisher Jr. b. May 18, 1812, Highland Co., Ohio
Samuel Fisher b. Jan 30, 1857, Clinton Co., Indiana
Woodford P. Fisher b. Jul 20, 1911, Helena, Oklahoma
Jackie L. Fisher b. Apr 30, 1939, Jet, Oklahoma