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's enumeration (116 -- 1 adult male, one boy under 16, and 6 females) matches up with Jesse ~31, Anna ~30, Abigail 7, Joseph ~5 and Letitia ~3, with three more females in the home.

I had not originally expected to find Jesse Britton on the 1790 census, as I thought he 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) and by daughter Letitia’s birth ~1787 in PA. This is definitely the Jesse Britton who fought in the Revolution in Bucks County, listed in three different companies:

1-Jessee Brittain/Jesse Britton—Capt Robert Gibson’s company -- with Joseph Brittain/Britton, and Nathanel Brittain/Britton
2-Jessee Brittain—Capt. Jacob Bennet’s Light Dragoons
3-Jesse Britton—Capt William McCalla’s company (Plumsted Township) -- with Nathaniel Brittain/Britton and Samuel Brittain/Britton

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 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 and Joseph born there), then came back to Bucks at least 1787-1790 (Letitia's birth, 1790 census), and then back to VA in 1790 (Elizabeth’s birth) prior to emigrating to Ohio in about 1807. Also note, there is only one son under 16, so Jesse Jr is not born yet.

I would guess the Joseph (2-1-5) listed next to Jesse is a brother (but maybe a cousin). No confirmation of any history of Jesse's family has been found, but 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 Britton/Britain families: Joseph (224), Nathaniel (206) and Thomas (301). 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 ! !

In Bucks in 1790 there is also a James Gibson listed, with a son under 16 -- likely to be a brother or cousin to Anna Gibson Britton (~age 30). There was a Robert Gibson who married Mary Britton on 7/14/1775 in Bucks, had four children, and sadly died by drowning in 1783 in Frederick, VA -- I would guess that he was a brother to Anna too. Captain Robert Gibson’s 1788 will, is probably for a grandfather to Anna Gibson -- in this will is mentioned a daughter Mary Britton -- this Mary is married to Joseph Britton, and is thought to be Jesse's father.

* 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.