1790 Census -- First Census of the United States

NOTE: No individual enumeration; head only

State: Pennsylvania
County: Bucks

actual 1790 PA census form - click on image for the full page
The 1790 census instructed the marshals to identify, by age brackets, free white males sixteen years of age or older and those under sixteen. It was designed to determine the country’s industrial and military capabilities. Additionally, the first census was to count the number of free white females; all other free persons regardless of race or gender; and slaves. A twenty-dollar fine, to be split between the marshals’ assistants and the government, would be levied against anyone who refused to answer the enumerator’s questions.

Jesse Britain's household: 1 male over 16, 1 male under 16, 6 females.

I had not originally expected to find Jesse and Anna Gibson Britton on the 1790 census, as I thought they would be in Virginia, and the Virginia census was lost in the War of 1812 fires in DC. There are only two Jesse Britains on the 1790 census —- this one in Bucks County, PA and one in Northhampton NC. That our Jesse was in PA in 1790 was confirmed by family stories (of some distant cousins -- Jesse fought in Revolution in Bucks, etc) and by daughter Letitia’s birth ~1787 in PA.

Jesse and Anna’s daughter Letitia, born ~1787, said on both her 1850 and 1860 census that she was born in PA (and gave her age as 62 and 73) while her older and younger siblings, Joseph and Elizabeth, answered ages 66 and 60 respectively and Virginia in 1850, and Joseph answered age 76 and Virginia in 1860. Furthermore, there is no entry for Jesse Britton on the 1787 Virginia census. So it appears that Jesse was born in PA (Berks-Reading?) in 1756, fought in Bucks County PA sometime in the years 1775-1779, then moved to Virginia by 1779 (muster roll fines) (maybe married there, maybe Abigail born there?), then came back to Bucks at least 1787-1790, and then back to VA in 1790 (Elizabeth’s birth) prior to emigrating to Ohio in about 1807.

This enumeration would match up with Jesse ~31, Anna ~30, Abigail 7, Joseph ~5 and Letitia ~3, with three more females in the home -- these could be older females or even non-relatives; these older censuses can only track where the family lived, and not who was in the family. I believe the Joseph (2-1-5) enumerated with our Jesse above is likely to be a brother, but no confirmation of any history of Jesse's family has been found -- not only does a Joseph have the same muster fines as Jesse, but there is the Virginia pension application for Joseph, and both of these put his age as just a couple years younger than Jesse, moving from Bucks to Winchester to Bucks with him. In Bucks County PA in 1790 there are three other Britain families besides our Jesse and this Joseph: Joseph (2-2-4), Nathaniel (2-0-6) and Thomas (3-0-1). Elijah Brittain, whose son John will marry Jesse’s granddaughter Letitia Howsmon in 1820, has already (just) left Bucks County PA for Ross County OH. There are NO Brittains in 1800 in Bucks ! ! There is one Gibson household in Bucks in 1790 (James Gibson - 2-2-3) and one in Berks County in Hereford, near where Jesse Britton was supposedly born in Reading - 3-2-5) -- perhaps neither related to Anna Gibson.

* In today’s dollars, $20 in 1790 would be worth $400 (CPI-adjusted). In old-fashioned script, “ss” was written as a “fs” and can look like a “p”.

No 1800 or 1810 census data available for Ohio.

For documentation on the census data (collection procedures, errors, availability, etc) refer to documentation.