Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Ezekiel Harlan (1679-1731), Quaker, Yeoman, and Land Speculator

Generic Colonial era sailing ship

My eighth great-grandfather was the oldest son of George Harland and Elizabeth Duck, who I wrote about in January. He was born in the Parish of Donaghcloney, County Down, Ireland. He was only eight years old when his parents brought their family to the Pennsylvania colony in 1687. He had eight younger siblings, the first three of which were also born in Ireland and made the long journey to America with Ezekiel, his parents, and his uncle Michael. For a listing of his sisters and brothers, please see the post on his father, HERE.

A word about the dating used in this post before I continue with the story. Before 1752 England and its colonies used the Julian Calendar, in which the first day of the new year was March 25, and not the Gregorian Calendar (used today) in which the first day of the new year is January 1. While the Quakers followed the calendar commonly used by England, the Quakers designate months by numbers, such that in the Julian calendar First month (or 1st mo. or 1) was March. In writing dates in this essay that occur before 1752, I’ll state what the date would be in today’s calendar and then, in parentheses, I’ll include the date as I found it in the source used. [For a more in-depth explanation of the Julian calendar transition to the Gregorian calendar, and Quaker calendar see my post, Dating Induced Headaches for the Family Historian: Julian, Gregorian, and Quaker Calendars.]  Now on with the story of Ezekiel Harlan!

The main Irish ports from which ships sailed to William Penn’s new Colony were Cork and Waterford. Although while vessels did sail directly from those Irish ports, more often people took passage in ships which sailed from Whitehaven, Liverpool, or Bristol, in England, which then stopped at the Irish ports for passengers and cargo on the way. Philadelphia was the main port of entry in America from Ireland, but many settlers landed at Newcastle, on the Delaware River, and some at points in Maryland and Virginia.

The voyage from Ireland to the American colonies was a long one, ranging from six weeks to three months depending on the weather and sea conditions. Ships were often driven far off course by contrary winds and carried as far south as the West Indies. Additionally, dangerous diseases, such as smallpox, frequently occurred, and many passengers died at sea. George Harland and his wife Elizabeth (Duck) saw this new land as such a new hope and opportunity that they chose to risk their young family, children aged 4 to 8 years, in the hold of one of these ships for the long voyage to Pennsylvania. The Harlans landed and settled in Newcastle (and dropped the final “d” from their last name). Newcastle was then the largest city in the lower three counties of Pennsylvania (which later became the state of Delaware).

The first monthly meeting of friends in Pennsylvania occurred in January 1681/2, five or six years before the Harlan family arrived, thus the monthly meetings were well established when the family arrived. The congregations of the Quaker meetings  already in Pennsylvania, especially the Philadelphia monthly meeting, took special care of new immigrant Friends, welcoming them and advising them as to where to settle, and often giving needed financial assistance, especially in the payment of passage money, lending the new immigrants the money to pay the bill the ships master charged to bring them to the colony, or buying out their debt and taking them into service to work out their redemption. Once the immigrants chose their land and secured title, the family would quickly move to their chosen land so that their efforts in settlement will be well underway by the time winter season began.

The Landing of William Penn, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930), depicting Penn's arrival at New Castle.
The Landing of William Penn, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863-1930), depicting Penn's arrival at New Castle.
In the Public Domain

The Harlans initially settled on the west side of Brandywine Creek, in the Christiana Hundred in Newcastle when Ezekiel was eight or nine years old. The Christiana Hundred was one of the original Hundreds created in 1682 and was named for the Christiana River that flows along its southern boundary. A Hundred was an old English term for a portion of land, like a County, was governed by a particular administrative or legal body. As they were joining an already existing community, there were neighbors within a reasonable distance to help and to provide more security than going further inland by themselves. In the summer they attended the Newark meeting at Valentine Hollingsworth’s house and, in the winter, because travel was treacherous, they were allowed to hold meetings in the homes of their own community.  

The whole family would have worked together to clear the forest on their land to build a house. The first dwelling built by new immigrants to the land was often a log cabin built from the trees they felled in order to make the clearing in which to build the cabin. It was built of long logs placed horizontally upon one another and notched together at the corners. The spaces between the lots were filled in or kinked with stones or wedges of wood and then plastered over with mortar or clay. The roof was covered with boards or all shingles, either pinned by wood wooden pins or held in place by weight timbers. A huge stone fireplace and chimney were built into one side of the house to be used for cooking and heat. The English and Irish Quakers made their log houses square not rectangular. As a family became more settled, and survived the first winter, with crops harvested and re-planted, they added a second floor. As they became more prosperous, the families would also build a larger and more comfortable in addition to the house of brick or stone.  A log house built, about 25 years later, in 1715, by Ezekiel’s younger brother Joshua still stands in Kennett Township, Chester County, PA and is on the National Register of Historic Places. See the picture below of Joshua’s house.

Joshua Harlan's Log House, 26' x 26',  built 1715, with 1815 19' x 15' stone addition.
Near Kennett Square, Kennett Twp, Chester County, Pennsylvania, USA, about a half-mile west of Fairville.
Smallbones / CC0 

George Harlan moved his family about ten miles up the creek further into Pennsylvania to Kennett Township in Chester County Pennsylvania in 1698 after buying 470 acres of land up there. Ezekiel was 19 at the time of that move. The move would’ve been done with packhorses as there were no real roads and a wagon would not make it through the forest, even along the creek bank. The women and children and farm and household effects were loaded on the packhorses, with the men traveling on foot, leading the horses and driving their animal herds and flocks along before them. Again, they cleared land and built a new home. 

In the summer months George and his sons, including Ezekial, were busy clearing and planting their land, and keeping their livestock. In winter, if it was too cold or stormy for outside work, the male members of the family would do such tasks indoors as making shoes for the family, repairing horse tack, heating iron over the fire and berating it into farming or household implements, and making household furniture and utensils. The women of the household were even busier than the men. They would help the men in the fields and in caring for the animals, but also did the cooking for the family, washed dishes and clothes, made butter, made candles and soap and clothes, sewed quilts, picked, carded, and spun wool and flax, knit, worked in the kitchen garden, and had babies and cared for the children.

The produce and handicrafts of the farm were carried to Philadelphia, Chester, or Newcastle, on horseback to be sold in markets or fairs or exchanged for goods the household could not make themselves. They also met and socialized with other Quakers on these trips.  Despite the difficulty in travel the Friends visited with each other regularly at harvests and huskings, barn and house raisings, weddings and funerals, and at the twice weekly meetings on First-day and Fifth-day. Quakers also met for quarterly and yearly business meetings that brought in Friends from distant areas, which led to more socializing. The Quarterly Meetings lasted for several days.  The Yearly Meeting for the Harlans’ area of Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as parts of New Jersey and Maryland, was held in Philadelphia for a week or more each year.

The twice weekly Meetings were very important in a Quaker’s life for worship and quiet socializing. At the meeting, the congregation sat on hard, unpainted, un-cushioned benches, with women on one side and the men on the other. After some moments of silent worship, from the raised seats in the gallery facing the body of the meeting [congregation] where the ministers and elders sat, a minister would stand and give a spiritual message. Often the speaker was a travelling friend from England, Ireland, or other distant places.

In 1700, when Ezekiel was 21 years of age, he married Mary Bezer (in the below record, Mary Bazer), by ceremony of Friends at the Concord Monthly Meeting in what is now Delaware County Pennsylvania. Her family had come to the colony in 1683 when she was only 1-year-old, settling in the area of that Meeting.

Ezekial Harlan & Mary Bazer, Marriage Intention,  13 Jan 1700 (the 13th of  the 11th month 1700)  Minutes of Concord Monthly Meeting, Delaware PA
Ezekial Harlan & Mary Bazer, Marriage Intention,
13 Jan 1700 (the 13th of  the 11th month 1700)
Minutes of Concord Monthly Meeting, Delaware PA

Quakers required that marriage took place within the auspices of the meeting; it was not something to engage in lightly or quickly. Companionship and friendship were viewed as the proper base of a marriage. Romance was not condemned but was conditioned upon a shared devotion to God. Men and women chose their own spouses after months of corresponding and visiting. Parents could not force their children into marriage. However, a man and woman were required to have the approval of parents and their meetings to marry.  To do this, the two first appeared before the local women’s meeting. The records show the two chose the Concord Meeting that Mary attended. The women’s meeting appointed two people to meet with the couple separately to question them to ensure that neither of them were already married, were nonQuakers, or were otherwise unsuitable spouses. Friends believed that the wife and husband should be supportive of the other’s spiritual growth. Both partners were also expected to be capable of contributing to their household and to raise their children as Quakers. If the couple were found to be “clear of all entanglements” they were allowed to marry according to the good order of Friends. The couple then had to appear at at least two Men’s Meetings to declare their Intent to Marry before obtaining approval to do so. These early Friends did not believe that a priest or magistrate, or even a Quaker meeting, could perform a marriage. Only God could do that. Marriages took place in a silent meeting where the man and woman rose and affirmed their commitment to each other before God. Those present signed a certificate witnessing that the marriage had actually taken place. Careful records of witnesses were kept so courts would recognize the marriage and the legitimacy of the children in it, to avoid later challenges to inheritance.

Ezekiel and Mary had only one child, William, my seventh great-grandfather, who was born 1 Nov 1702 (9, 1, 1702) , died 22 October 1783, m. 14 Feb 1721 (12, 14, 1721). Unfortunately, Mary died shortly after his birth, in 1702 in Christiana Hundred, New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Four years later, in 1705/6, Ezekiel married Ruth Buffington in a ceremony of Friends. They had six children: Ezekiel, born July 19, 1707 (5, 19, 1707), died 1754, married Hannah Oborn, December 23, 1724 (10, 23, 1724); Mary, born June 12, 1709 (4, 12, 1709), died June 7, 1750 (4, 7, 1750), married Daniel Webb, November 28, 1727 (9, 28, 1727); Elizabeth, born July 19, 1713, died ?, married William White, August 8, 1728 (6, 8, 1728); Joseph, born August 14, 1721, died ?, married Hannah Roberts May 21, 1740 (3, 21, 1740); Ruth, born March 11, 1723 (1, 11, 1723), died ?, married Daniel Leonard, May 28, 1740 (3, 28, 1740); and Benjamin, born October 7, 1729, died October 1752 (8 Mo. 1752), at sea, unmarried.

Ezekiel and Ruth lived in Kennett in Chester County, on property directly north of the Old Kennett Meetinghouse. The Old Kennett Monthly Meetinghouse was built in 1710 by Ezekiel Harlan, on land deeded from William Penn. The bicentennial history for the old Kennett meetinghouse states that he “must have” conveyed the land for the meetinghouse, but the deed had been lost. Ezekiel was described in a few sources as a farmer and a land speculator. He dealt in lands throughout Chester County and adjoining counties. He was appointed constable for the Township in 1706. In 1715, he was the heaviest taxpayer in the Township, paying 12 shillings and sixpence, or approximately six days wages for a skilled tradesman. 12 shillings and six pence appear to be about double what most of the other people listed in the record paid that year.

I lost him for about fifteen years after that. But in 1731, he went to England, regarding what most sources described as “tradition holds was business in connection with his father’s estate.” Before he left for England, in an abundance of caution, he drafted his will. This was a tradition before any long sea voyage. He survived the sea-crossing to England, but while there, he contracted smallpox and died, at age 51, on 15 June 1731 (15 of 4 mo. 1731). He was buried two days later near Bunnhill Fields, in Devonshire, England.

The Will of Ezekiel Harlan, signed 14 Nov 1730. Probated 31 Jan 1732.
(found in PA Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993, Collection on Ancestry.com)

The Will of Ezekiel Harlan (transcription)

In the name of God Amen. I Ezekiel Harlan of the County of Chester in the province of pennsivania in America Yeoman being in reasonable health of body and of perfect mind and memory Thanks be to God for the same and being about to take a voyage into old England and Calling to mind the uncertainty of this life for the settling of my Temporal affairs I do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say first committing my soul to God I will order and appoint my boddy to be buried in a Decent matter at ye Discretion of my Executrix hereinafter mentioned and Touching such Worldly Estate and Substance were with God has Blessed me I give and appoint and bequeath to my son William Harlan the sum of five Shillings and to my son Ezekiel Harlan the sum of five shillings and my daughter Mary the wife of Daniel Webb the sum of five Shillings and to my daughter Elizabeth the wife of William White the sum of five Shillings and my sons Joseph and Benjamin Harlan and to their heirs and assigns forever I Give and Bequeath Five hundred acres of land to be equally divided between them share and share alike that is to say 250 acres each to be laid out at the direction of my executrix hereinafter named which said Five hundred acres of land is to be part and parcell of the Tact of Land which I now Dwell upon and to my daughter Ruth Harlan the sum of Fifty pounds Current money of pennsilvania or the value in goods at the market price and in any case any of my last mentioned three children viz Joseph, Benja, and Ruth should happen to Dye before they attain the age of Twenty one yeares or marry then and it is my will that the share or shares of each Child or Children so dying shall be Equally Divided between the survivor or survivors of them and my Executrix Share and Share alike.

Item I give and Bequeath unto my Dear and well Beloved wife Ruth Harlan the remaining part or parcel of my plantation or tract of land on which I now dwell after the said Five hundred acres is laid out to my two sons Joseph and Benjamin in the manner aforesaid Together with all my personall Estate of what kind or sort soever in order the better to Enable her to pay and satisfy all my just Debts and funeral expenses and towards bringing up maintaining and Educating of my children during their minority and lastly do a ordain constitute and appoint my dear and well beloved wife Ruth Harlan soul executrix of this my last will and Testament here by Revoking and making void all other and Former Will or Wills heretofore made or published by me.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Fourteenth day of November in the year of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and Thirty.
Signed Sealed                                                                                              Ezekiel Harlan. (Seal) 
and published in the
Presence of

Joseph Robinson.
William Webb Junior
Wm Henderson.

An inventory of Ezekiel Harlan’s goods, filed January, 1/31/32, and signed by Joseph Gibbons and James Taylor, places the value of his worldly effects at the time of his death at 208 pounds 17 shillings. Appraised on February 1, 1743/44, and signed by Jno. Marshall, Benjamin Taylor and Samuel Sellars, the amount of the estate which passed to his widow, Ruth, amounted to 182 pounds, 19 shillings, six cents. In the report of the Executrix filed on 5 May 1734 by Ezekiel’s widow, Ruth Harlan, she listed 37 people to whom money was paid in the administration of the will. Ruth outlived Ezekiel by about twelve years. She died before 2 Feb 1743, which is when her will was probated.

The Will of Ruth Harlan (transcription)

Be it known to all men by these presents that I Ruth Harlan of Kennett in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty-three being sick & weak of body but of sound and perfect Disposing mind & memory do make and ordain this my Last Will & Testament in manner and form following that is to say first and principally when it shall have pleased Almighty God to call my Soul to his mercy that my Boddy be Decently interred at the Discretion of my Executors hereinafter named, and in the next place my will mind an order is that all my just Debts and funeral expenses shall be paid and discharged as soon as possible after my decease And after all my Just Debts and funeral expenses are paid and discharged I do devise and bequeath unto my son Ezekiel Harlan of West Marlborough in the said county and province the sum of Five shillings to be paid to him or his assigns within one year after my decease. Also I Devise and Bequeath unto my son Joseph Harlan of Kennett aforesaid the sum of Five shillings to be paid under him or his assigns within one year after my decease and also I Give and Bequeath unto my son Benjamin Harlan the sum of Five shillings to be paid under him when he shall have arrived at the age of 21 years. Allso I Devis and bequeath unto my daughter Mary Webb & relict of Daniell Webb Late of Kennett deceased the sum of Five pounds to be paid to her or her heirs within one year after my decease. Allso I devise & Bequeath unto my said daughter Mary Webb my sattin Gown to be delivered to her immediately after my decease. Allso I devise and bequeath unto my daughter Elizabeth White my Gown made of wool & worsted and my quilted Petticoat and the Remainder of my wearing apparrall l I give Devise and Bequeath to my daughter Ruth the wife of Daniel Leonard. Allso I get devise and bequeath the wooll of my sheepe to be Equally divided between my two Daughters namely the above-mentioned Elizabeth White the wife of William White and Ruth the wife of Daniel Leonard. Allso I give devise and Bequeath unto my said daughter Ruth Leonard the seventeen acres of Land by me reserved out of the Lands left me by my husband Ezekiel Harlan Deceased & the House where I now Dwell & allso the orchard and a piece of Meadow called the Calf Passture & a piece of Wood Land at the Discretion of my executors so that the whole of the land in orchard Meadow Ground Woodland &c shall not exceed Seventeen acres To hold to the said Ruth Leonard during her Natural Life and after her decease I Give devise and bequeath the seventeen acres of Land & Premises above-mentioned to my son Benjamin & his heirs and Assigns forever, and the Remainder or Overplus of my Estate after my Just Debts funeral expenses & the above mentioned Legacies are paid and discharged I do Will in order to be Equally Divided between my two above mentioned Daughters, namely, Elizabeth White and Ruth Leonard.

Also my will mind and desire is that my son Benjamin be put to apprentice in a Convenient Time after my Decease to my Brotherinlaw Charles Turner of Birmingham untill he be the age of Twenty years to learn the Trade and art of Cordwainer & I do hereby constitute and appoint my son Ezekiel Harlan above-mentioned to be the sole Executor of this my Last Will and testament and my soninlaw* William Harlan of West Marlborough aforesaid to be Overseer & Trustee for the performance thereof but without the power of admintr except in case it shall so happen my son Ezekiel shall die before he shall have accomplished and fulfilled the performance of his Administration & Executorship to this my Last Will & Testament.
And I do hereby revoke Disallow & make void all and all manner & other and former Wills & Testaments by me heretofore made, hereby ratifying and confirming and declaring this and no other to be my Last Will & Testament.
In witness whereof together with the publication hereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the day in the year first above written.
Witnesses: John Walker. RuTH X Harlan. (Seal)
Thomas Worrall. Mark
proved February 2, 1733/4

*"soninlaw" is now called stepson


Quaker meeting records, 1681-1935, ancestry.com, Provo, Utah, USA;  Estate Papers, 1713-1810; Author: Chester County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Probate Place: Chester, Pennsylvania, collection at Ancestry.com, Provo, Utah, USA; Wills Proved at Philadelphia 1682-1692, pp. 51-52. No. 14, John Bezer, Publication of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Volume 1, 1896, No. 2; History and Genealogy of the Harland Family in America, and particularly of the descendants of George and Michael Harlan, who settled in Chester County PA, 1687, compiled by Alpheus Harlan (The Lord Baltimore Press 1914); The History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with genealogical and biographical sketches, by J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope (Philadelphia, Louis H. Everts 1881); Immigration of the Irish Quakers in Pennsylvania, 1682-1750, with their early History in Ireland, by Albert Cook Myers, member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (The Author, Swarthmore PA 1902); Bi-centennial of Old Kennett Meeting House, Kennett Township, Chester Co., Pa., seventh day, ninth month, twenty-fourth (Walter H Jenkins, 15th and Cherry Streets, Philadelphia); The History of the Society of Friends in America, Vol. II: Pennsylvania and New Jersey, by James Bowden (London: W & F.G. Cash, 1854); https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/currency-converter/#currency-result; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Kennett_Meetinghouse ; https://www.southernchestercountyweeklies.com/news/the-many-quaker-meetinghouses-of-chester-county/article_db570d2d-e806-5dc3-a313-6e0b36998a32.html; http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/portal/communities/pa-heritage/our-first-friends-early-quakers.html