Friday, January 1, 2021

William Harlan (1702-1783), Colonial Farmer, my 7th great grandfather


Climbing My Family Tree: 1770 Map of Pennsylvania Colony
A map of Pennsylvania exhibiting not only the improved parts of that Province, but also its extensive frontiers: Laid down from actual surveys and chiefly from the late map of W. Scull published in 1770; and humbly inscribed to the Honourable Thomas Penn and Richard Penn, Esquires, true and absolute proprietaries & Governors of the Province of Pennsylvania and the territories thereunto belonging.
From the Library of Congress
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Earlier this year I listened to a podcast by Amy Johnson Snow titled “Is Perfectionism Ruining Your Genealogy?” and have come to the conclusion that whether or not it was ruining my genealogy, it was definitely contributing to the ruination of my family history blog. That and the 2020 pandemic. It’s been a weird, stressful year. It turned out that writing this blog takes up the same bandwidth in my brain that doing my job does, and as my job was deemed essential, I never stopped working (first from home when New York shut down and then we were called back to the office well before other office workers were allowed to return) and I was so stressed that I needed all that brain bandwidth for work. Now the coronavirus is far worse in my area of New York than it was in the spring. But I’m going to try to write more anyway, because of Amy’s podcast.


This post is on William Harlan (1702-1783) and Margaret Farlow Harlan (1703-1767), my seventh great grandparents. It won’t be as detailed as some of my posts tend to be because I haven’t been able to find out all that much about them, and whether that’s due to pandemic brain overload, or because there isn’t that much to find out, I don’t know; but I’m locking my perfectionism in the closet and proceeding anyway. As you might remember, I’m writing posts on this part of the family history coming down the line as it will make it easier to write about the history (in later posts – I don’t have much for this one). I’ve already written about William’s father, Ezekial Harlan (1679-1731) [see here ].


Climbing My Family Tree: Birth record of William Harlan, born 5 November 1702
Quaker Birth record of William Harlan, born 5 November 1702 (9,1,1702*)
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William Harlan was the only child of Ezekial Harlan, (1679-1731), and his first wife Mary Bezer (1682-1702). He was born 5 November 1702 ( 9, 1, 1702)*. His mother died shortly after his birth in 1702. His father remarried four years later to Ruth Buffington, and had six more children with her (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.] William was likely cared for by his grandparents and his father until Ezekiel remarried, as Quaker families were close and helped one another with the needs of daily living.


After his father remarried, William lived with them in Kennett in Chester County, on property directly north of the Old Kennett Meetinghouse. Ezekial Harlan was a prosperous farmer. William, and the other sons as they came along, would have helped on the farm clearing and planting their land, and keeping their livestock, and when the weather was too cold, helping to repair tack and tools, and feed the animals.


When he was twenty-two, William married Margaret Farlow, born 1 November 1702, “Spinster”, also of Chester County. Most of the sources I’ve seen indicate Margaret was born in Ireland but don’t say where in Ireland. One source says she was born in Chester County Pennsylvania. This is something I still need to nail down. I don’t know who her parents are. Although the Quaker marriage record pictured below says that William is the son of Ezekiel Harlan, it doesn’t indicate any parents for “Margrett” Farlow. They lived for a few years in Kennett PA, near his parents, but eventually moved to Marlborough Twp (which later divided and the part where his lands were turned into West Marlborough Twp) in Chester County PA by 1732.


Quaker Record of William Harlan -Magrett Farlow marriage, 14 February 1725
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William and Margaret had nine children: Mary Harlan (bn 1722- dd ?, married William Moore 1742), William Harlan (bn 1724- dd 1819, married Abigail Hollingsworth 1743), Jonathan Harlan (bn 1726- dd 1774, married Elizabeth Webb 1749), Alice Harlan (bn 1730- dd 1797, married Richard Flower 1754), Sarah Harlan (bn 1732- dd 1775, married Robert McMinn 1749), Stephen Harlan (bn 1740- dd 1830, married Mary Carter 1761), George Harlan (bn 1743- dd 1821, married Elizabeth Chandler 1768), and Enoch Harlan (bn 1745- dd 1794, married Edith Carter 1769).


While Quakers had originally had a great influence on the formation of Pennsylvania’s government and social culture, during the mid-1700s that influence began to wane as other groups practicing other religions settled in the Pennsylvania colony. Additionally, the Quakers pacifistic and egalitarian beliefs eventually led to their diminishing influence in the area, in part, because of their concern for the well-being of the Native Americans in the area which became unpopular as more people expanded into the areas in which the Native Americans lived and wanted them pushed out. Additionally, the Quakers refusal to contribute to military activities and to pay taxes which would support any military activity did not endear them to their neighbors because they weren’t contributing to the local defense, and it kept them out of participation in the American Revolution, except in certain isolated cases. Their influence further waned as large numbers of Friends left Pennsylvania to move south and west in search of new lands that could better support their families because the Quakers had taken such a firm stand against slavery that they were no longer able to economically compete with neighbors who used slave labor on their farms and in their businesses.


In my research of the Harlan line, I have found that the older sons tended to stay close to home their whole lives and the younger ones tend to be the pioneers leaving and pushing further into the new country. William was no exception; he, the first-born son, lived his whole life in the county in which he was born.


1745 Map of Chester County Pennsylvania Colony
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I don’t have any information about the middle of his life when he and his wife made a family and raised their children. After his marriage, the next information I found was of the death of Margaret Farlow Harlan, through a record made by William Harlan which read, “William Harlan son of Ezekiel and Mary Harlan was born the first day of the ninth month 1702. Margaret my wife was born the first day of the ninth month 1703, and departed this life the 12th of the sixth month 1767, at 6 o’clock in the morning.” (See information on dates in the note at bottom of post).


According to the 1770 census, three years after his wife’s death, William owned 250 acres, for horses, six cattle, 10 sheep, and had one servant. He was 68 years old. In 1773, he served on a jury in the Court of Oyer and Terminer, which was the Pennsylvania colony’s version of criminal court. In the next two years, his son Jonathan and his daughter Sarah died, in 1774 and 1775 respectively. William lived nearly 10 years longer. He died 16 years after his wife on 22 October 1783. He left behind a will that was proved in 1784. The inventory of his estate included such items as one walnut desk, one case of walnut drawers, one feather bed and furniture part, three large pewter bowls and six small pewter bowls, two large iron pots, one walnut table & chest, two horses – one roan & one gray, one walnut cupboard & one doz (possibly “servers”, I can’t quite read the handwriting here), one poplar table.


Cover Sheet for
 Inventory of William Harlan's Estate
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Inventory of
William Harlan's Estate
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The will of William Harlan

I William Harlan of the Township of West Marlborough in the County of Chester in the province of Pennsylvania being in a Reasonable Measure of Health & Sound mind Praise be given to God for the same & knowing the uncertainty of this Life do make Ordain Constitute & appoint this my Last Will & Testament in manner & form following viz.

It is my will that all my just debts & funeral Expenses be paid by my Executor hereinafter named as soon after my Decease as they conveniently can.

Item. I Give & Bequeath unto my Daughter Mary Moore and her Heirs the sum of five Shillings Currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my son William Harlan and his Heirs the Sum of five shillings currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my grandson Wm Harlan (son of Jonathan Harlan Deceased) and his Heirs the Sum of five shillings currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my son James Harlan and his Heirs the Sum of five shillings currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my daughter Alice Flower and her Heirs the Sum of five shillings currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my daughter Sarah McMinn and her Heirs the Sum of five shillings currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my son Stephen Harlan and his Heirs the Sum of 50 pounds currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my son Enoch Harlan and his Heirs the Sum of 50 pounds currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my granddaughter (daughter of Stephen Harlan) & her Heirs the Sum of five pounds currant money of Pennsylvania.

I Give and Bequeath unto my son George Harlan & his Heirs & Assigns all that plantation and tract of land thereunto belonging whereon I now dwell situate in the Township of West Marlborough aforesaid and I give & bequeath unto aforesaid son George Harlan all that plantation & tract of land that I purchased of James Shields situate in the Township of East fallow field the County aforesaid to him his heirs & assigns forever. Also I give & bequeath unto him my said son George Harlan and his heirs & assigns forever all that plantation and tract of land called Brittlestown situate in the Township of East fallow field he paying all my just debts and the above legacies and I do hereby make all the said three palpitations & tracts of land liable and subject to the payment of all my just debts and legacies aforementioned. All the rest residue & remainder of my estate I give & bequeath unto my son George Harlan his heirs and assigns forever. And I do hereby nominate constitute and appoint my said son George Harland executor of this my last will and testament.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this seventh day of 11th month in the year of our Lord 1700 & 74 William Harlan (seal) Nathan Hayes.


William Davis.

John Passmore.

The above will was proven February 19, 1784.

“An inventory and appraisement of the effects of William Harlan senior of West Marlborough in Chester County deceased this FebY 4, 1784” and signed by James Hannum and Jacob Chandler placed the total at 55 pounds, 2 shillings, 6 pence.


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*Note: 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.]  


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); 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);; Title: Wills 3440-3554; Chester County, Pennsylvania, U.S., Estate Papers, 1714-1838 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013 (Original data: Pennsylvania. Chester County. Estate Papers, 1700–1820. Gale Cengage Learning. Microfilm, 85 rolls. Chester County Archives, West Chester, Pennsylvania); Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Births and Deaths, 1686-1739; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 267 ; Swarthmore College; Swarthmore, Pennsylvania; Marriages, 1718-1821; Collection: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Minutes; Call Number: MR-Ph 265;