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Searching for the Ancestors of Thomas Fisher of Chester County, Pennsylvania

Chapter IV. Thomas Fisher in Calne

Thomas Fisher and most of his family moved from Kennett Township to East Caln around 1740, as described in the references at the beginning of this book. In the course of searching for the origins of Thomas Fisher, the Caln neighborhood was studied further and the additional findings are described here. Only one possible clue to Thomas Fisher’s ancestry was discovered. A William Fisher was administrator in 1731 for Jonathan Bradley who had land “in the forks of the Brandywine.” One new finding was the exact location of the Fisher farms in Caln, previously unknown, described in the following.

Some of Elizabeth Huntley Fisher’s relatives were already in Caln long before 1740. Her three sisters all married at Kennett but settled in East Caln. Deborah Huntley married James Bruce of East Caln in 1720, and was in East Caln by 1728. Mary Huntley married Peter Whitaker in 1725, a landowner in East Caln as early as 1724. Sarah Huntley married John Stanton of East Caln in 1727.

In 1740, Joseph Wilkinson of Caln Township came to Kennett to marry Elizabeth Jr., the eldest daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Huntley) Fisher. Several members of theWilkinson family had come in 1730 from Ballynacree, northwest of Belfast in Ballymoney Parish. Joseph and Elizabeth went to Caln to live. Other Fisher family members and relatives soon followed.

In 1741, Thomas Fisher obtained title to 250 acres of land in East Caln, a little to the west of Joseph Wilkinson. In the same year their son James transferred his Quaker membership, with his wife Alice (Stanfield) Fisher. Alice was a daughter of Samuel Stanfield and Jane Andrew, who came in 1728 from Lurgan, northern Ireland and settled in Kennett on the William Andrew tract. Peter Whitaker and wife Mary (Huntley) Whitaker moved from Kennett and settled on land adjoining the south side of the Thomas Fisher land in Caln.

Thomas Fisher’s tract in Caln was part of William Penn’s proprietary township right which was defined in a 1708 warrant for 500 acres. The Penn tract was divided between William Henderson and Samuel Black in 1740, who ceded respectively to Thomas Fisher and Peter Whitaker.

In 1742 Thomas and Elizabeth, with their three younger children (Francis, Thomas Jr., and Mary), transferred their Quaker membership from Kennett (Newark Monthly Meeting) to Caln (Bradford Monthly Meeting). The oldest son, William, stayed on the farm in Kennett.

In 1743 James Fisher obtained his own tract of 200 acres of land a short distance to the south of the Thomas Fisher/Peter Whitaker tracts. At the same time Samuel Fisher, the teen-aged son of Thomas and Elizabeth Fisher, transferred his Quaker membership from Kennett.

The Thomas Fisher tract in Caln was near the northwest corner of old East Caln, Chester County, about 30 miles northwest of their old farm at Kennett. The new tract was about 3 miles northwest of the Caln Meeting House. It lies now at the west end of West Brandywine Township, the northwest corner of the tract being about a mile south of the present Wallace Township line, and about ¼ mile east of Brandywine Creek (West Branch). The tract was in the neighborhood of the present Brandamore and Cedar Knoll communities. Lafayette Road now lies on the northern boundary of the Fisher tract. The West Brandywine Township Building is across the road from the north part of the Fisher tract. The east boundary of the Fisher tract is now Highway 82 (Manor Road). This area is a short distance north of Coatesville. The tract of James Fisher, son of Thomas, was about ½ mile below his father. The center of his tract was near the present intersection of Monacy and Baker Streets.

The Fishers 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.

In 1742 William Fisher obtained a warrant for 200 acres in West Caln, “next to Peter Whitaker,” but no survey was ever executed. This was probably William, son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Huntley Fisher), but could have been one of Thomas Fisher’s missing relatives. In 1731, a William Fisher was administrator of the estate of Jonathan Bradley, who had land “on the branches of Brandywine Creek.” William, son of Thomas and Elizabeth (Huntley) Fisher never left Kennett, and died in 1748.

Thomas Fisher’s will was proved August 27, 1747, and is filed in Will Book B. Page 228, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Thomas gave his fourth son Thomas Jr. the upper 100 acres of the East Caln tract, and the remaining 150 acres to the third son, Samuel. Samuel sold his share to Thomas Jr. in 1770.

In 1748, the widower John Cope of Caln married the widow Elizabeth Fisher.

The sons 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.

I surmised in my earlier book that Thomas Fisher or his descendants may have founded Fisherville in old East Caln. It is now clear that both Thomas and James Fisher lived several miles to the northwest of Fisherville. If any descendants had anything to do with Fisherville, it will be necessary to search much later in the land records to find any connection. Newspaper articles between 1880 and 1910 do not mention the origin of the name. One article describes “Beaver Valley Mills,” formerly Durhing’s Woolen Factory, and says Fisherville grew up around that, apparently on Beaver Creek. In 1910 the entire village was sold, consisting of 27 acres of ground, a large mill of 3 stories, and 17 tenement houses and buildings.

More details of the Fisher family life in Caln are given in “Ancestors and Descendants of Cephas Fisher Jr.” and other sources listed in the catalog for the Family History Library at Salt Lake.

Other researchers have traced many descendants of Thomas Fisher of Kennett. Check the LDS web site at Familysearch.com.

Neighboring Landowners in Caln

The land maps in Chapter I. show the tracts of the Fisher family and their relatives and neighbors in Caln. Refer to them in reading the following.

1708 Penn Survey

William Penn’s 500-acre survey in Caln in 1708, part of which later became Thomas Fisher’s farm, mentioned 3 abutting landowners.

James Spencer – Nothing is known of him. A John Spencer was in the Londongrove Township tax list for 1724.

George Claypool -- James Claypoole, merchant and Helena his wife came in 1683 with seven children and five servants, aboard an unnamed ship which carried passengers from the Netherlands. He became a Commissioner of Property in 1684. Joseph Buckley and James Claypoole obtained a warrant for land in 1713, with 1820 acres on the north line of Caln going to Claypoole. The Claypoole land soon went to George Claypoole, a probable son of James. South of this William Branson, of Philadelphia, held 1275 acres. In 1739 the bounds of the Caln Township survey described the Claypoole tract as abutting the northeast corner of the township and lying on the line of Springton Manor, with William Branson’s land lying below Claypoole. In 1737 James Eldridge requested a grant of land “within the Proprietors Manor of Springton adjoining to his Land and the Land of George Claypoole.”

William Branson – He came from Berkshire in 1708 and became a prominent merchant of Philadelphia. He had iron mills around French Creek in Nantmeal Township, Chester County. Of Philadelphia, in 1708 he patented 1225 acres in Caln Township below George Claypool’s land. He may have lived in Caln in 1731, and was “of Reading” in 1741. The the Branson tract in Caln abutted the east side of the Penn proprietary tract that was later divided for Henderson and Black and sold to Thomas Fisher and Peter Whitaker. Parts of the Branson tract were sold to Francis Ferris, Robert Irwin, Samuel McKinley, Susannah Pyle and Joseph Wilkinson, all neighbors to the east of the Fisher/Whitaker land. William Branson lived to be 104 years old.

1740 Penn Survey

In April of 1740 the sons of William Penn re-surveyed their father’s 1708 tract of 500 acres in Caln. The new survey mentions 3 names in addtion to those in the 1708 bounds. The 1740 survey notes that the property was divided for William Henderson and Samuel Black, then sold to Thomas Fisher and Peter Whitaker.

William Henderson – He married about 1694, Katherine (--) of Kennett. A 1737 land record refers to a 1676 grant to John Henderson and others at Chichester. In 1733 John Henderson of New London Township bought land at Chichester from Samuel Gelston, “a minister of the gospel.” A resurvey of the upper half of a 500-acre tract belonging to the sons of William Penn in Caln was dated 10 April 1741 for William Henderson, who sold it to Thomas Fisher who patented it 20 May of the same year.

Ann Welch – She obtained a warrant in 1714 for 220 acres in Caln, surveyed in 1718. The 1721 tax list for Caln says Ann Welch was a nonresident landowner. In 1733 Anne Welche was of Newtown Township. Henry and Walter Welch were in the Kennett taxables in 1753. In 1810 Ann and Sarah Welsh were Baptists in East Fallowfield Township.

Joseph Darlington – See below, 1741 Fisher survey.

Edward Irwin – George Irwin, son of Jared was born in Ireland in 1685. In 1721 he married Jane Matlack of Burlington, New Jersey. He died in 1748 in Brandywine Manor, West Nantmeal. Robert Irwin, one of 12 children, bought 200 acres from William Branson’s tract at the southeast corner of what became the Fisher/Whitaker lands. In 1728 Edward Erwin, a probable son of Robert, signed a petition for the division of Caln Township.

1741 Fisher Survey

The survey of the upper half of the Penn tract in Caln for Thomas Fisher, in May of 1741, named 7 landowners in the bounds:

John Wall – He was born about 1710 and married Phebe Buffington in 1740. Another of that name appeared in the 1715 taxables in Goshen. He appeared in the 1753 taxables in East Caln. A John Wall was Pastor of St. Agnes Catholic Church in West Chester in 1853.

Joseph Darlington – . A biography for the Darlingtons of Caln Township appears in Futhey/Cope: “William Darlington, a settler in West Nantmeal about 1730, came perhaps from Ireland, judging from his associations. He died in the fall of 1757, leaving a wife, Mary, and children Joseph, Robert, John, and Meredith. Joseph Darlington was a single man in Aston in 1715, and in 1718-19, of Goshen, but in 1721 was a married man in Caln township, where he probably resided until his death.” Another biography in the Futhey/Cope History of Chester County says “Job Darlington of Darnhall, Cheshire, England, with Mary, his wife, had children Abraham, John, Joseph, Matthew, Jane, Mary, and perhaps others. The mother died Dec. 18, 1728, and the records of the parish of Whitegate show that Job was buried Aug. 11, 1731. Of the children, Abraham and John came to Pennsylvania, and tradition says it was through the inducement of John Neild, an uncle by marriage, who lived in Aston Township.” The two families may have been related or the same, since Abraham Darlington from Cheshire and a Joseph Darlington were both in Aston Township in 1715. A Joseph Darlington was in Caln by 1728. The survey of Samuel Fisher’s sale of 150A in 1770 says Joseph Darlington was deceased.

George Claypoole

See previous, 1708 Penn survey.

Samuel Black – He married Elizabeth (--) about 1719 in Upper Providence. Reverand Samuel Black was the first pastor of Brandywine Manor Presbyterian Church , 10 November 1736 to May of 1741. The land patent for the church property went to Matthew Robinson and John Smith in 1786, then was conveyed to a group including Samuel McKinley, another former neighbor of the Fishers in Caln. In 1813 he was in General Stewart’s Company, 97th Regiment which was sent to Elkton, Maryland due to “wars & rumors of wars” in Europe.

James Spencer & Theofilus Erwin (Irwin) – Nothing is known of James Spencer. A John Spencer was in the Londongrove Township tax list for 1724. Theofilus Erwin, at the northeast end of the Fisher land, was probably related to Edward Erwin who had land at the southeast corner of the Samuel Black/Peter Whitaker tract below the Fishers.

Samuel McKinley -- Samuel McKinley and John Wall, neighbors of Thomas Fisher, performed the inventory of Thomas Fisher’s estate in 1747.

Peter Whitaker -- Peter Whitaker of Kennett married Mary Huntley, daughter of William Huntley deceased, of Kennet, in February of 1725 at the Kennett meeting house. By 1732 he had land in East Caln. In 1734 Peter Whitaker and Mary his wife sold 170 acres of their tract in East Caln, to William Taylor and Mary his wife. The survey of Samuel Fisher’s sale of 150 acres in 1770 says the land below his was that of Peter Whitaker, deceased.

The 1743 James Fisher Survey

A survey of 200 acres to James Fisher in 1743, below the Irwin tract and southeast of the Fisher/Whitaker lands, named 7 landowners in the bounds:

Ann Welche – See previous, 1741 Penn survey.

Edward Ervin (Irwin) – See above, 1741 Penn Survey.

Benjamin Mendenhall – John and Benjamin Mendenhall came from Wiltshire before 1685 and settled in Concord and Kennett Townships. John and Aaron Mendenhall, sons of the immigrant John Mendenhall, went to East Caln. Aaron, nephew of the immigrant Benjamin, signed a petition to divide Caln Township in 1728.

Edward Thomson – He was in the 1715 tax list for Edgmont Township. He signed a petition in 1728 to divide Caln Township.

Andrew Cox -- He was listed in the 1753 tax list for East Caln. In 1759 he contributed supplies from Bradford and East Caln Townships for Forbe’s Expedition to Fort DuQuesne.

William Littler – In 1713 Phillip Taylor of Thornbury Township and Ann his wife, with Samuel Littler of Nottingham and Rachel his wife, the widow of Thomas Taylor, deceased, sold land in Middletown Township. William Littler was in the 1739 tax list for Newlin Township and the 1753 tax list for East Caln. Samuel Littler went to Tennessee and Ohio with James Fisher Jr. in a later generation.

William Wilson –On 26 May 1742 John Patten and William Wilson, both of Gray Abbey in the County of Downe, Ireland, made an oath that Anne Rowan, Sr., alias Patten, the late wife of Cornelius Rowan, formerly of Ireland and lately of New London in the County of Chester, deceased, died in Ireland in the year 1739. In 1743 John Wilson was of Fallowfield Township, Chester County.

The 1742 William Littler Survey

The William Littler Survey mentioned James Fisher on the east side. Other names mentioned in the bounds:

Gawen Moore – He was a Lieutenant, 1747-8 in volunteer “Associators” formed due to the French-English war in Europe. He was in the East Caln taxables of 1753.

Francis Zooc – One of the Amish Zug/ Zook family. In 1719 Ulrich & Peter Zug (Zook) came from Switzerland and settled first in Germantown. Other family tracts were in West Whiteland and in Lancaster County. Francis Zook, a member of this family, was in the East Caln tax list for 1774.

Andrew Cox – See above, 1743 James Fisher survey.

The 1770 Survey, Thomas Fisher Jr. to Samuel Fisher

The lower 150 acres from the Thomas Fisher tract was left to Samuel Fisher per Thomas Fisher’s will in 1747. Samuel Fisher sold this to his brother,Thomas Fisher Jr. in 1770. The new survey mentioned Joseph Darlington deceased and Peter Whitaker deceased in the bounds.

Thomas Fisher’s will was proved August 27, 1747, and is filed in Will Book B. Page 228, Chester County, Pennsylvania. The will and accounting is shown in the appendix to this volume. 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 William, James, Elizabeth, Francis and Mary. In 1748, the widower John Cope married Elizabeth, widow of Thomas Fisher. 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.