Synopsis of Parsons Reseach by Marilyn Moore
Possible Lineage of Charles and Joseph Parsons
My experience (and I’m sure that many of you have had the same experience) has taught me that traditions are extremely valuable research tools. The traditions may not be 100% accurate because they have been shaped by many individual’s memories as they have been handed down, but they contain certain grains of truth that survive and serve to provide us with valuable clues. Keep in mind these “traditions” as I describe the records I have found.
When I could find (after exhaustive research) no clear record of a William Parsons in Queen Anne County MD in the correct time frame and after much conversation with Clark Blake in which he echoed the same research findings, I moved on to Virginia. Again I found several instances of a William Parsons, but the dates and places did not meld with dates that are proven. I could not reconcile the fact that a man could live in one county for 40 years and not own land, pay taxes, be enumerated as head of a household, go to church, marry…etc. I came to the conclusion that even though we knew for certain that Joseph was born in Queen Anne, MD (pension declaration), that there was an alternate scenario that was making research on this family quite difficult.
So, I moved on to Pennsylvania and BINGO! I came across the first line that had the potential to belong to Charles and Joseph. I have no proven connection to Charles and Joseph as of yet, but the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming, especially when you compare the information to tradition.
William Parsons, Jr.: (Father of Charles and Joseph?)
William Parsons born about 1722, probably in Philadelphia. I believe him to be the son of William Parsons, Sr.(b 1701 d 1757). On December 5, 1744, a William Parsons married a Martha Hughes in the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.
[This is the same church in which Robert Lowther married Acquilla Rees several years earlier. Probate records in Bucks Co. PA indicate that both a Matthew Hughes and William Lowther (Robert’s father) were residing in Buckingham Twp., Bucks Co. during the same period]
It is quite difficult to distinguish the records of William Parsons Sr. from those of William Parsons Jr. with the exception of numerous land records in Lancaster Co. PA which bear two separate and distinct signatures of William Parsons (surveyor).
During the years 1750-1751, there were a number of border disputes between Penn's Colony and Lord Calvert's Maryland. These mostly involved German settlers who claimed allegiance to the appropriate “other” colony at tax time. Thomas Penn and Lord Calvert agreed that the boundary between Penn’s Colony and Lord Calverts land needed to be firmly established. Council from both Colonies was appointed and survey teams were established to survey the boundaries. A William Parsons was appointed a member of this survey team. It is believed that this William Parsons was William Jr. There are several reasons, the first being this was the same year in which William Sr. surveyed and laid out the town of Easton, Pennsylvania. The second being the survey of the transpenninsular line was extremely physically demanding and would be difficult for a man that had resigned as Surveyor General of Penns Colony several years earlier due to “the rigors” of the position.
I believe that this William Parsons died before the year 1757. It is well established that after Braddocks Defeat in 1755, the Indians seized the opportunity to wage war against the Colonists. The area around Easton Pennsylvania was extremely hard hit. One attack left more than 200 hundred souls, men, women and children of Easton, dead. Settlers that had family “back east” sent their wives and children to safety. It is well documented that Joseph Parsons was born in Queen Anne County MD in 1755. William Parsons Sr. served as a Major in the Easton militia in 1755. A list of commissioned officers shows a William Parsons receiving a commission as Major in May of 1756 and a William Parsons receiving a commission as Captain in May of 1756. There is a notation (M) after Captain Parsons name. There is some discussion as to whether this means Major Parsons was serving both offices. Because all commissions were “bought” both during the colonial and revolutionary period, I tend to believe that it was simply a notation which demonstrated which senior officer, this Jr. officer was serving beneath. William Parsons, Sr. was 56 years old and in poor health. I doubt that he could be effective in actual combat.
There are no additional records of William Parsons Jr. I believe he may have been killed in battle in such a manner that his body was not recovered. When William Parsons Sr. died the following year, he left a bequest to “decorate the grave of my dear mother and dead children, Robert, Susannah, and Hannah” after numerous bequests, he leaves the remainder of his estate to “my wife and my children now living.”
This would leave Martha Hughes Parsons to return to Bucks County PA to her family. As an interesting note, the William Parsons Sr home in Easton was transferred to a George Taylor (signer of the Declaration of Independence) from a John Hughes. In Bucks County, during this time period, we find people with the surnames Parsons, Hughes, Evans, Chesnut, Staats, Jackson and Lowther which were known to migrate to Augusta County VA in the 1760 and from there to Fort Buchannon and ultimately settle in Jackson County VA.
William Parsons, Sr.: (Grandfather of Charles and Joseph)
William Parsons was born in 1701 in England. We know a great deal about this William. In his will, dated 1757, he leaves a legacy to the children of his late sister Mary and to the children of his sister Sarah. He also leaves money to “decorate the grave of his dear mother”. I have been able to locate a letter that he had written (in English) about 1741 and through the probate of his will, I have determined that most of his business dealings (real estate) were with German speaking settlers of the Heidleburg District of Northampton Co. PA.
William Parsons was married at Philadelphia in 1722, to Johanna Christina Zeidig (known as Hannah), born May, 1699, a daughter of John Julius Zeidig and Salome Margaret Sprogel, a daughter of the Rev. John Henry Sprogel, a widely known clergyman and educator of Quedlinburg, in the Saxon province of PRUSSIA. A sister was the wife of the Rev. Gottfried Arnold, a church historian, a professor at the University of Giessen, and man of great learning. Two of her brothers were John Henry Sprogel and Ludwig Christian Sprogel, names familiar to the students of early Pennsylvania history, with one of whom Miss Zeidig came to Philadelphia .
William had six known children (possibly seven). Three children died young: a son Robert, a daughter Susannah, and a daughter Hannah. In the letter to Thomas Cadwallender, 1741, William speaks of a son whom William wishes Cadwallender to counsel on the matter of collecting a debt from a certain gentleman who was known to both men. One daughter, Johanna, married Nicholas Garrison from Staten Island, NY. Captain Garrison was a captain of a large ship which made many trips to Germany and brought many of the early German Mennonite emigrants to Philadelphia, a second daughter, Juliana married Timothy Horsfield, an early physician in Philadelphia. A third daughter, married a James Worrell. William owned a mercantile on Second Street in Philadelphia and was also Surveyor General of Penn’s Colony under Thomas Penn.
While I have no proof as of yet. This would explain why the records are nonexistent for William in MD and in Augusta Co. VA. Joseph states that he came to Augusta County, but does not say that he came with his parents. His mother may have remarried or she may have died and the sons were raised by family. It also might explain the sudden appearance of George Parsons in later records, especially if the children were split among relatives as was the custom.
William Parson’s Sr.’s Ancestry:
William Parsons Sr. was the son of Robert and Grace Parsons. Robert died in Philadelphia in 1708. His will was written and his estate inventoried in the same month which would indicate a rather quick demise. His estate indicates that he was a weaver by trade. He left three daughters and William who was eight years old when his father died. I believe that an additional son, Robert, may have been born after his death. Robert lived in Bucks Co. PA and died in the year 1760. He left a bequest to a Mary Parsons daughter of William Parsons, dec’d. He also named a grandson George Parsons.
The following was mailed to me by Eva Baker in California. It appears to be part of Kathy Ray Parson’s newsletter on THE PARSONS FAMILY FROM THE SOUTH BRANCH OF THE POTOMAC AND CHEAT RIVER VA/WV. It is an issue which has an article entitled Thomas Parson’s Sr. Sightings. Fascinating article…it really renewed my enthusiasm to prove a relationship between Thomas and William.
The article discusses various Parsons records in Philadelphia. This one jumped out at me even though there are several inconsistencies with the Parsons record I’m tracing. Here goes:
“In the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF PENNSYLVANIA BIOGRAPHY by John Jordan written in 1916, on pages 2097-2099 it discusses a John and Florence Parsons. Their children were John, Thomas (#1) and Jane.” Thomas Parsons (#1) was born about 1665 and died 1721 in Frankford Twp near Philadelphia. This son Thomas (#1) had a son named Thomas (#2) born about 1688.
Other PA records reflect that John and Florence Parsons were living in Middlesoy England. They were members of the Middlesex Meeting. John, fined in 1670 for not paying tithes was imprisoned for five years. Father John and Mother Florence signed a certificate from the Meeting at Middlezoy, England to Friends in Philadelphia to send son John to Philadelphia. John went to Philadelphia and returned to England in 1685 where he married Ann Powell. They were married the 6th month, the 23rd day of 1685 in England in the Meeting house in Parish of Trenton England. It is on record in Philadelphia . Ann was born in North Curry Co, Somerset England. Brother Thomas (#1) a carpenter, married Jane Culling, daughter of John Culling. Jane died before 1704 in Bucks Co. Pa. He then wed Mary Hinds in 1704 in Philadelphia. The sister Jane Parsons married 1677 in England, a William Tyler. She had the given name Johanna.
Thomas (#1) and his brother John had Liberty Allotments for land in Philadelphia. John and Ann Powell Parsons were joint purchasers on 500 acres of land along with Andrew Hooper. There was a warrant granted for the NW corner of 2nd and Walnut Streets in Philadelphia. John’s will dated 1699 was probated in 1705. The will names his wife Ann, children John, William, Mary and Jean/Jane and kinsman Samuel Powell, who was the first mayor of Philadelphia [this is inconsistent with William’s will which names sisters Mary and Sarah]. The son John died in 1714. The children were all born in England and died in PA; Mary married Abel Nicholson before her father died, William married in 1711 Mary Abbott and John married a Rachel.
This Parsons family was allegedly on the Ship WELCOME. They were said to be good friends of William Penn, although McCracken in his book, THE WELCOME CLAIMANTS, PROVED, DISPROVED, AND DOUBTFUL states that it is unlikely that they were on board. The History of Bucks County PA mentions Parsons men working on the William Penn home and buildings.
I really feel that we are close to the answer...finally. If this is it, it is a far better story that TIC even imagined.
Military Records From the French and Indian War
PA Archives 2nd Series Vol II.
["In the fall of 1755, after General Braddock's defeat, there were several companies of militia sent into Northampton, and other frontier counties to guard the inhabitiants. Among the rest was one raised by Isaac Wayne, father of the late General Wayne, with whom I entered as a volunteer, being then turned of sixteen years. Our company, with some others rendezvoused at Easton, under the command of Genl. Dr. Benjamin Franklin, for some days until the arival of a New England gentleman of the name of Clapham, who took upon him the command and Dr. Franklin returned to Philadelphia. Soon afterwards were were ordered to a place called Canoteu Hatten (Gnadenhutten) a Moravian town and settlement, the inhabitants of which had all been murdered by the Indians. We erected a Stockade Fort there, to which was given the name of Fort Allen. The fall and winter were spent in erecting a number of Stockade forst on the frontier of Northampton county. In the monthe of February we were relieved and discharged." Col. Samuel Miles'manuscript dated Feb 4, 1802.]
Then on page 533-534 is A LIST OF THE OFF'RS IN THE PROVINCE PAY, WITH THE DATES OF THEIR COMMISSIONS:
Under First Battallion we find:
Lieutenant Colonel: Conrad Weiser May 5, 1756 Major: WILLIAM PARSONS May 14, 1756
Captain: Conrad Weiser, (L.C.,) May 5, 1756
Captain: WILLIAM PARSONS, (M.,) May 14, 1756
Captain: Frederick Smith Nov 14, 1755
Captain Jacob Morgan Dec 5, 1755
Captain Christian Busse Jan 5, 1756
Captain Jacob Orndt Apr 19, 1756
Captain John Van Etten May 1756
Captain George Reynolds May 17, 1756
Captain James Patterson
Captain Charles Foulk
EARLY PARSONS LINES INTO PENNSYLVANIA
ELWOOD PARSONS, FARMER, BUSINESS MAN, BANKER.
The Parsons family for seven generations associated with the affairs of Bucks and Philadelphia Counties is of ancient English origin, tracing back to the time of the early Crusaders, and is probably of Norman French origin, the name having its origin in the inception of surnames (sire-names) as Pierreson, i. e. son of Pierre.
The earliest record of the name in English heraldry is the herald¡¦s visitation to Hereford in 1286, when Sir John Parsons of Cuddingham is awarded armorial bearings comprising a leopards head between three crosses, indicating that the original grantee was a Crusader.
The earliest authentic ancestry of Elwood Parsons known to the family in America, was George Parsons of Middlezoy, Somersetshire born about 1540, and who had a son John and four daughters.
Several representatives of the Somersetshire family of Parsons who had become converts to the faith of George Fox, found their way to Pennsylvania in the closing years of the seventeenth century, but this narrative is chiefly concerned with John Parsons, a great grandson of George above mentioned, whose father and grandfather, both named John Parsons, had been landed proprietors at Middlezoy and had reared families their.
John Parsons, son of John, born at Middlezoy, Somersetshire about 1630 became a convert of George Fox, and suffered considerable persecution for his religious convictions. He was fined in 1670 with other members of Middlezoy Meeting of Friends for refusing to pay tithes. Five years later he suffered imprisonment for the same offense. He was one of seven Quakers imprisoned for religious faith, who in August 1684 addressed an eloquent petition to the Judges of Assizes concerning the injustice of their imprisonment, for holding religious meetings. He and his wife Florence signed a certificate for their son John from the Meeting at Middlezoy to Friends in Philadelphia dated 7 month (September) 4, 1681. This son John returned to Middlezoy in 1685, and married Ann Powell, with whom and his brother Thomas and sister Jane Tyler and her family, he returned to Pennsylvania in the same year. There is some evidence, unfortunately not conclusive that he was accompanied or followed to Philadelphia by his parents John and Florence Parsons.
Thomas Parsons, son of John and Florence Parsons, of Middlezoy, Somersetshire, was born about 1663. Like his father he was a member of the Society of Friends, and in 1685 suffered imprisonment with others at Ilchester County, Somerset for being present at a Conventicle held at Gregory-Stoke, where the Quarterly Meeting of Friends of Somersethire was usually held. He was married in 1685 to Jeane or Jane Culling, daughter of John Culling of Babcary Parish Somersetshire, the consent to their marriage being given by Ilchester Meeting of Friends July 29, 1685, He seems to have made immediate preparations to go with other members of his family to Pennsylvania, and was in Philadelphia April 8, 1686, when he and his wife witness a marriage at the Friends Meeting House.
His family was one of those who lived in a cave on the bank of the Delaware near the foot of Arch Street. He and his brother John were both carpenters and joiners. They owned one of the first wind mills ¡§upon the Bank before the front Lott of Joseph Growden¡¨ which they sold to Richard Townsend, who February 22, 1689-90, obtained a grant of ¡§one hundred foot of bank before the Proprietor¡¦s son¡¦s lott that lies on the south side of said Growden¡¦s Lott to sitt the mill upon..¡¨ Thomas Parsons lived for a time on lots he owned at Third and Walnut Streets, Philadelphia, but subsequently removed to Bucks County, where both he and his brother John had land grants with allotments of Liberty Lots in Philadelphia.
His wife Jane died in Bucks County and he married second in June 1704, Mary Hinds at Falls Monthly Meeting. Soon after his second marriage he settled in Oxford Township, near Frankfort, Philadelphia, where he owned and operated a mill for a number of years, selling it to Jacob and Isaac Leech in January 1720. He also owned 500 acres of land in Salem County, New Jersey, and 800 acres on Duck Creeks in Kent County, Delaware. He died in Oxford Township, June 1721.
Thomas Parsons, son of Thomas and Jane (Culling) Parsons, born in Philadelphia about 1688, resided in the vicinity of Philadelphia until after the death of his father, and then removed to Virginia. He was named Executor of his father¡¦s will but was ¡§absent¡¨ at the time of proof, June 17, 1721. He was devised by the will, the mill property in Oxford Township, but his father conveyed the estate after the date of the will. His three children were baptized at Abington Presbyterian Church, the last one on September 8, 1722.
Abraham Parsons, son of Thomas Jr. was baptized at Abington Presbyterian Church March 5, 1720/1, the same date on which his brother Isaac was baptized. He married Johanna Ayres daughter of James and Margaret Ayers of Lower Dublin Township, Philadelphia County, and became possessed of a farm in that township, part of the estate of his father in law. He died in December 1768 and his widow Johanna died in February 1779.
Isaac Parsons, son of Abraham and Johanna (Ayres) Parsons, born in Lower Dublin Township, Philadelphia County, November 12, 1748. Soon after attaining manhood he located in Bristol Township. Bucks County, locating in Falls Township in the same county in 1781 where the remainder of his life was spent. He was a member of St. James Protestant Episcopal Church at Bristol, Pa where he and his wife lie buried. He died September 26, 181. Isaac Parsons married first, in 1777, Anstrus Shadowell, by whom he had five children. He married second, about 1791, Elizabeth Broadnax, born May 20, 1755 died June 15, 1827, by whom he had two children.
Robert Broadnax, the father of Elizabeth (Broadnax) Parsons, was born about the year 1700, and was a serivener who did considerable public service business in Lower Bucks County, writing many wills and deeds. He married October 9, 1734, Christiana Keen, daughter of Jonas and Frances (Walker) Keen, and a lineal descendant of JƒÖran Kyn, who came to Pennsylvania with Governor John Printz in the ship ¡§Fama¡¨ which saided from Stockholm August 16, 1642. They resided in Bensalem Township, Bucks County, where Robert Broadnax died about 1784. He is said to have come to Bucks County Pennsylvania from Henrico County Virginia, where John Broadnax is said to have settled in 1685, and where he died in 1719, leaving a will in which he named his son Robert, a minor, slightly under 21 years of age as executor.
The Broadnax family is traced back from the John Broadnax, nine generations in an unbroken line to Robert Broadnax and his wife Alicia Scapppe, of Burmarsh and Godmershein, County Kent, in the first quarter of the 15th century.
Isaac Parsons, son of Isaac Parsons and Elizabeth (Broadnax) Parsons was born in Falls Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania July 3, 1794 and died there August 21, 1851. He inheirted the old homestead and lived there-on during the greater part of his life, engaging for a brief period in the mercantile business. Isaac Parsons married April 5, 1 He lived on the Assapuk Creek within the present limits of the city of Trenton821 Lydia Ann Anderson born near Trenton, New Jersey, July 16, 1801, died July 19, 1901, daughter of Joseph Anderson and his wife Sarah Norton, the former a descendant of Jachen Andriessen, who was a son of Andries Jochomesen Van Albade one of the first settlers of New Amsterdam.
Enoch Anreason, the son of Jochem, and great, great grandfather of Mrs. Parsons, was born in New York in 1676, was one of the chief founders of Trenton, New Jersey. He was a Justice of the Peace and of the Courts of Burlington County as early as 1709. He was named in 1698 as trustee for the church and school grounds at Maidenhead, and was later trustee of both the Lawrenceville and Ewing Presbyterian Churches. He lived on the Assapuk Creek within the present limits of the city of Trenton, and the First Trenton Presbyterian church erected in 1727 was on land donated by him. His wife was Trintje Op Dyke of Newtown, Long Island, a granddaughter of Jansen Op Dyke who came from Holland to the New Netherlands prior to 1653.
The Nortons were among the earliest English settlers in New Jersey.
Elwood Parsons, son of Isaac and Sarah (Norton) Parsons, was born in Falls Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, April 5, 1822. He was educated at the Friends School at Fallsington and a a boarding school at Poughkeepsie, New York. He married March 26, 1851, Mercy Ann Taylor, born July 14, 1824, daughter of William Taylor and his wife Mary Crozer, the former a descendant of Robert Taylor, a native of Ireland, mariner, who after having followed the sea for some years settled in Philadelphia where he died in 1798. Mary Crozer was a descendant of the Crozer Family who occupied for several generations the old Pennbury Manor House and plantation which had been the home of William Penn. Through the Crozers, Mrs. Parsons is descended from Duncan Williamson, one of the earliest settlers on the Delaware at Dunks Ferry, which was named from him and from George Brown, who was commissioned a Justice at the Falls by Governor Andros, in 1680, as well as from John Sotcher and his wife Mary Lofty who came from England with William Penn in 1699, and were for many years his stewards at Pennbury Manor.
On his marriage Elwood Parsons took charge of the homestead farm and operated it for ten years after which he purchased a farm of 217 acres in New Jersey on the banks of the Delaware two miles below Bordentown, on which he resided for nine years. He then returned to Bucks County and engaged in the lumber business at Morrisville, with his brother-in-law Joseph C. and David Taylor, which partnership continued for three years. He then purchased a county seat near Morrisville where he resided until his death.
He was elected a Director of the First National Bank of Trenton January 1868, and ¡§rendered a most faithful and untiring service there until his death¡¨, a period of nearly a quarter of a century. He was elected president of the bank June 3, 1891. He was one of the Directors of the Bucks County Contributionship for Insuring Homes and Buildings for Loss by Fire, the oldest fire insurance company in the county, from 1876 until his death. He was also for a number of years a director of the Trenton Bridge Company and filled may private positions of trust. He died October 13, 1891, and was buried beside his wife in the Morrisville Cemetery.
They had seven children, only the youngest of them survive, Ella Parsons, a member of the Pennsylvania Society of the Colonial Dames, member of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, and of the Sweedish Colonial Society. Miss Parsons is deeply interested in historical matters and has done loyal work toward having important historical sites marked.
ABSTRACTS OF REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSION APPLICATIONS
Source: West Virginian’s in the Revolution
PARSONS, William (Captain)
Les Shockey and Betty Briggs, Co-Coordinators of the Jackson County WVGenWeb page.