Quaker research in New York


When we think of Quakers, we think of 1682, William Penn, and the founding of Pennsylvania as a safe haven for Quakers. While this is absolutely true, there were some Quakers in America before then... probably not as early as when George Fox started the religion in England in 1652, but definitely within the next couple of years.

In 1655-1681, before Pennsylvania, the main Quaker settlements were in New England (i.e., Rhode Island), New Amsterdam (i.e., New York), Long Island, Maryland, Virginia, and the West Indies. In 1675-1682, records from southern NJ, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, should also be examined -- in 1674 a group of Quaker investors, including Penn, bought a stake in the New Jersey colony, and divided it into East Jersey and West Jersey. West Jersey became the first Quaker colony in America, but it eventually went bankrupt and was rejoined to East Jersey in 1702 to form a royal colony.

When doing early Quaker research, especially in the 17th century, it is important to keep in mind the tiny population at that time -- to realize that few people also meant few records. Additionally, since families/siblings often migrated together to the "new world", it is even more likely that people with the same surnames are related, and especially if the surname is not common. We think of NYC today as a behometh city with a population of over 19 million; in 1680 there were only about 3000 people in New York.

Quaker symbol, circa late 19th century
A quick glimpse back in time....
• In the year 1700, Philadelphia was the third largest city in America with 4400 people! Boston had 6700 and New York 4900.
• By 1790, Philadelphia had surged into first place with 42,500, and was now the second-largest English-speaking city in the world (second to London, of course)! New York was still second with 33,100 and Boston had 18,000.
• In just 40 more years, New York took over as the most populous city, and never fell out of first place again. In 1830 New York had 197,100 people; Philadelphia 161,400, Baltimore 80,600 and Boston 61,400.
• By 1850 the population had more than doubled in the intervening 20 years (515,500, 340,000, 169,100 and 136,900 for the same four cities respectively).
• Philadelphia, a center of ferment for American Independence, was the seat of the federal government 1776-1800.

Quakers were persecuted in both Great Britan and America; it is impossible to underestimate the importance of the establishment of a safe haven for the freedom of their worship. That Pennsylvania became a haven for all Quakers, even drawing those who lived elsewhere in the colonies, is underscored by the fact that only two colonies tolerated Quakers at this time -- Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

Genealogist William Wade Hinshaw (1867-1947) estimated that 50% of Americans whose families immigrated in the early days were of Quaker descent. I (DLH) initially thought this sounded grossly optimistic; however, as I have researched deeper into my grandfather's tree, I think at least 43% of his immigrant ancestors of the 17th century had Quaker backgrounds: Britton, Frost, Gibson, and maybe Howsmon and Maiden as well.

I (DLH) have found our Quaker heritage hard to uncover. Our ancestors became militant quite early, by the 1750s or earlier, so they would have no longer been members in good standing in the Quaker community. This is perhaps the profound irony of Philadelphia -- Pennsylvania was founded for freedom of religion, particularly for the pacifist Quakers, but many drawn to the state of promised freedom were willing to fight to protect those freedoms. Additionally, our ancestors moved far and often, so even when records are found there are only one or two. Our ancestors were early settlers in the wilderness, when records were not kept, or if kept were lost. Although the Quaker records are fantastic when they do exist, unfortunately the great majority of them for our ancestors have not been found either in America or Great Britain; I hope when all records are digitized, especially the ones in Pennsylvania, England and Wales, we will find more. Thus, most of the research of the ancestors has been using land records; Quakers tended to settle disputes within their own community, so there are not even many court records. The occasional will is invaluable to determine family composition; land records are quite limited genealogically.

NY Quaker Records. The early Quaker records in New York, at least those that still exist, were compiled by John Cox, Jr and published by William Wade Hinshaw in his third volume of the Quaker Encyclopedia:

Volume III -- covers four monthly meetings:
New York (originally Flushing) MM, beginning in 1672
Westbury MM in Long Island, beginning in 1672
Jericho MM in Long Island, beginning in 1789
Flushing MM in Long Island (second organization) in 1805

While there were other Quaker meetings in New York, these either post-dated the time period of interest (1652-1750), or were not in the area of interest (Manhattan/Staten Island/Long Island). Thus it is expected that the records compiled by Cox included all the early records that are still extant (which Hinshaw confirmed -- see footnote), and thus included all potential early Quaker records of our NY ancestors. Of specific interest are the Staten Island records, as there is a hypothesis in print that our Britton/Frost/Howsmon ancestors in Virginia had migrated there together from Staten Island, perhaps by way of PA/NJ/MD (I think this is false; see more below).

Records for Families of interest from Hinshaw's Quaker Encyclopedia, volume III (NY):
Britton (see index for Encyclopedia records vols I-VI):
     ★ Britton, Florence E. ae 3m. (undated; post 1805)
     ★ Britton White Jr referenced in NY records for 1796-1806 (given name; not surname)
Stillwell (see index for Encyclopedia records vols I-VI):
     ★ William & Mary Stillwell requested certificate in 1797
     ★ Jonah Powell m. Abigail Stillwell in the Jericho MM in ~1802
     ★ William Stillwell died 10/6/1842
Frost (see index for Encyclopedia records vols I-VI):
     ★ William Frost, nm, s William & Rebecca Prior, dt John & Elizabeth, b. 10 mo (Dec) 22, 1681, d. 12-18-1771 (mo) Hannah ack mo 6 mo (Aug) 24 1712 (Westbury-p.412)
     ★ Josiah Cock, s. James & Hannah, b 1 mo (Mar) 27, 1709, m abt 1730 Rebecca Frost, dt William and Hannah, b. 8 mo (Oct) 28 1714 (Josiah d 1766) (Westbury-p.401
     ★ Ethelinda Latting, dt Joseph & Mary; m. 1756 William Frost; m 2d Jacob Valentine. (Jericho-p.489)
     ★ Jacob Valentine m 2d Ethelinda Latting, wd Wm. Frost; Jacob gct Wby 5-17-1792 (Bibles) (Jericho-p.502)
     ★ William S. Frost son of Leonard J. d. 7/12/1822 ae 30y; m. 1816 Sarah Ann (NY-p.128)
     ★ John Hicks Frost, child of Jacob and Sarah M.; Jacob d. 1/6/1830, age 31 y 4 mo (NY p.128)
     ★ William S., s Leonard J. and Sarah Ann, gct Richmond,IN 3-3-1838 (NY-p.129)
     ★ William Frost, s Charles and Martha Titus, b 1838, d 3-10-1905 (Westbury-p.411)
     ★ J. Sheldon Frost, s John D. & Phebe E. (Sheldon), b. Renss'ville 12/1/1864, d. 5/12/1932 (NY-p.128)
     ★ Sarah, w. William, d 3-26-1853; cf Wby 10-18-1813; dis 12-1829 (NY-p.129)
     ★ John Frost d. 11/2/1869 (Flushing-p.380)
     ★ William H. Frost son of Isaac C (son of Stephen & Phebe) and Phebe Jane Miller. William H b 12-4-1852, d. 4-10-1926, l. Berwick ME (NY-p.128)
Howsmon/Houseman/Huysman (see index for Encyclopedia records vols I-VI):
     none

The one Britton surname record does not specify which family it belongs to; "ae" is not listed as a standard Quaker abbreviation (see footnote), but is assumed to be "age" which means this is a child who died at the age of three months, with unspecified parents. Because it is from p.510 which is the Flushing MM in Long Island and is after 1805, this record is not in the time frame of interest. The Britton given name, while interesting, is not of genealogical interest, as it is too late (1796-1806) to be closely related to our Virginia line which was in PA/VA by the 1750s. Often a mother's maiden name will be given to a child as a given name; these records indicate that Britton White's mother may have been a Britton. The Stillwell records are included as several Stillwells married into the Britton line over several generations, particularly in NY; John Britton of Bucks,PA is thought to have married a Stillwell, as did his son -- again, these records are too late to be of interest. The Frost family of Westbury (Long Island) is eye-catching as it involved a William married to a Hannah, but this is Hannah Prior, they have 10 children born 1702-1728 (William, George, Samuel, John, Benjamin, Rebecca, Isaac, Thomas, Hannah and Sarah) who stay in the Long Island (William marrying Susannah Coles and John marrying (1) Rachel Wright and (2) Phebe LeTelier -- both William and John die in Oyster Bay); there are no Quaker records for a Staten Island Frost. (see more on the Oyster Bay Frost family below; no known link to the VA Frosts.)

It is important to keep in mind that the New York Quaker records by themselves are not definitive. Perhaps there was no meeting close by, especially in Staten Island. Perhaps the individual did not convert to the Quaker religion when it started in 1652 in England; it certainly became more popular when followers were not subject to imprisonment in the post-1682 founding of Pennsylvania era. Thus, even if our Virginia ancestors were Quakers, and even if they migrated to Virginia from Pennsylvania where they were Quakers, they may have lived in New York prior to Pennsylvania where they were not Quakers. I had hoped, but not expected, to find Quaker records of interest in NY.

1751 map of the Great Trail (red line) from Philadelphia to Winchester then to NC; only Philadelphia to Winchester was navigable by wagon -- click on picture for larger view (or here for full size)
In the 17th century, the non-indigenous population (colonists) lived along the coast, and were just beginning their migration inland as land along the coast became more scarce at the end of the century. By 1700 Quakers occupied a 25-mile radius around Philadelphia; by 1740 it was 50-miles. The burgeoning population made Pennsylvania Quakers and others look to migrate to new virgin territory inland in the Americas. The migration route, the Great Trail, started in Pennsylvania. The trail took the pioneers west -- in the early 18th century from Philadelphia to Frederick,VA and western MD; in the mid 18th century to NC/SC; and by the late 18th century to KY/IN/OH. Pioneers from NY would have first traveled to Philadelphia to then take the Great Trail west. And these routes and dates mirror those of our ancestors: Britton, Gibson, Frost, Howsmon, and Maiden.

Pioneers in the new frontier were Quakers and non-Quakers. But our Britton, Frost and Howsmon ancestors chose Frederick,VA, founded as a Quaker colony in 1734. Unfortunately, the Hopewell MM records were lost in a fire in 1759, so there are no records from these early meetings detailing where our ancestors migrated from. It further appears that our ancestors were no longer in good standing in the Quaker community as of 1759, perhaps due to their military stance. Thus, the specific goal in examining the NY records was to see if there was any indication that they had lived in NY prior to the migration to VA, as has been hypothesized in print.

Britton, Frost, and Howsmon ancestors, their Quaker roots and their migration to Virginia.

There are several sources that list that our ancesters, Britton, Frost and Howsmon, as having migrated together from NY to VA:

• In the 1877 "Annals of Staten Island, from its discovery to the present time" by J. J. Clute, its Appendix L gives brief biographies of 79 early families, including Britton, Frost, and Housman. (This only confirms all three surnames were early settlers of Staten Island, and did not address their migration from the Island.)

• "The New York Genealogical Magazine, vol II, 1879-1880, published parts of the genealogy of the Frosts of Setauket, Long Island who came to Staten Island, New York, and were part of an expedition brought into Virginia by Alexander Ross as agent for Lord Fairfax about the same time that Jost Hite brought an expedition from New Jersey." (source: "The Houseman/Housman Family of Frederick County, Virginia and Madison County, Ohio", p.34). (magazine not found; see below)

• In the 1950s, Alice Haney Blue and Thomas Slattery stated that "The Brittons, Frosts and Houseman, all early immigrants to the Island [Staten Island], apparently traveled from there into New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and to Frederick County, Virginia, where their names appear in early records of those colonies." (source: "The Houseman/Housman Family of Frederick County, Virginia and Madison County, Ohio", p.1).
• "The Simonsons and others, including Brittons, Housmans and Frosts were among those who helped erect the settlement of Stony Brook and later Richmond in Richmond County, Staten Island. Many of these families migrated to Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia." (Britton section, p.29)
• "In the early settlement of the colonies, the Brittons, the Frosts and the Housemans apparently traveled from place to place in the same expeditions from New York and New Jersey to settle in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The Brittons were of French descent; the Frosts came from England, and the first of the name of Houseman came to America from Holland." (Frost section, p.33)
• "Connection of the Frosts of Winchester, Virginia to the Frostburg Line from New Jersey to Maryland has not been established by Bible or other family records, but descendants claim they were related to their early Frost ancestors (William McClintock furnished this information.)" (Frost Section, p.34)

Since the John Frost family of VA is known to be Quaker, and the Bryan-Ross expedition was a Quaker expedition, these statements beg for research not only in regard to the three families being together in NY and migrating to VA together, but also for their Quaker roots in NY. The derived time frames -- mid/late 1600s in NY; late 1600s/early 1700s NJ/PA; early/mid 1700s VA -- fit with the migration pattern of many Quakers. Thus, it seems like a reasonable hypothesis that the three families decided to travel together to the new frontier. But while the same three names do show up in early records of NY and early records of Frederick,VA, research into the families of each, including DNA research as available, has shown that these are NOT members of the same families in each locale. My (DLH) conclusion is that there was a serious assumption made that it was the same families migrating together on the basis of small populations and same/similar names. However, research has found this is NOT the case -- not only did they NOT migrate together, but it also appears that none of the VA Brittons/Frosts/Howsmons or their ancestors, ever lived in NY.

• The "New York Genealogical Magazine" has not been found to exist -- not by my (DLH) searches online or by the NYPL (New York Public Library). It is unknown if the name of the magazine was quoted incorrectly; neither the magazine or the quote can be located.

• Neither expedition to Virginia (Hite or Bryan-Ross) was made up of New Yorkers. Jost Hite (Hans Justus Heydt) was a German immigrant who did initially immigrate to Ulster,NY, but had moved to a German-speaking community in Philadelphia by 1714, then moved to Montgomery County,PA. He liquidated his Pennsylvania properties to buy 140,000 acres in the Shenandoah valley in 1731, to which he and fifteen other families migrated -- William Hogue (NJ/DE), John White, Nathaniel Thomas (DE), Benjamin Borden (NJ), David Vaunce, Stephen Hansbella (Hotsinpeller)(PA), Christian Nisewanger (PA), Thomas Chester (PA), Louis Stuffey, Christian Blank, Hendrey Hunt, and John VanMeter (NJ). The Hite family included George Bowman, Jacob Chrisman, and Paul Froman. It has been stated that 85% of Hite's families were from the Delaware Valley. In summary, the Hite expedition was formed with families from the Philadelphia area, and not NY. Likewise, the 36 families of the 1734 Ross & Bryan expedition were Quakers from the Philadelphia area, and not NY. I think this was an erroneous assumption from the NY heritage of some of the expedition members, and specifically of Hite himself; not one family of either expedition has been found to have migrated directly from NY to VA.

• These families did not emerge in VA at the same time according to records found. The earliest Frost record is the 1734/1735 land grant for John Frost, one of the "70 founders"; William Frost shows up in records in 1735 and 1740. The first Britton record is 1737 Hopewell Quaker record for Samuel Britton from the Chester MM (culled from the Chester records), too late to be a 1734/1735 founder of Hopewell. There is also the 1752 land grant to Joseph Britton (see section on Jesse's father). The earliest Howsmon record is the 1758 voting record for John Houseman (but he did not vote in 1755); the Howsmon family is known to have emigrated to VA from PA (John Howsmon's October 12, 1755 birth was in PA). These records clearly indicate that the three families did not migrate together (DLH 2013).

Thus, while it seemed like a reasonable hypothesis that the three families migrated together -- the same three names as early settlers in each -- this was actually a huge assumption that is not true. They arrived at different times, and two of three are known to have migrated from PA not NY. Furthermore, the two expeditions (Hite and Ross-Bryan) were not NY expeditions. More detailed examination of all the records in both NY and VA confirm these are not in fact the same families: the New Yorkers in fact stayed in NY and did not migrate to VA or anywhere. There is no known link between the NY and VA Frosts or Howsmons. Perhaps because there were links between the NY and VA Brittons, it was just assumed there were also genealogical links for the early Frost and Howsmon settlers as well.

While the nationalities of the Virginia Frost and Howsmon families are not confirmed, the concensus of other descendants is that Frost was Welsh (not English) and Howsmon was English (not Dutch). It is confirmed that the New York Huysman family was Dutch. The Britton families in both NY and VA were English (not French); the Virginia branch is proven through DNA testing to be descended from Richard Britton of Batcombe.

Research into the Frost and Howsmon families finds no genealogical links between the NY and VA families; there are links however between the extended families of the NY and VA Brittons.

Frost. --- Staten Island: The Frost family of Staten Island arrived too late: "Frost. The first of this name in this county ... was Dr. Thomas Frost; he resided at Richmond, and ... was a decided loyalist or tory, ... Thomas and Tamar Frost had a son named William Errell, born February 17th, 1774." -- Annals of Staten island, from its discovery to the present time. By J. J. Clute, p.383. Additionally, there is no Frost on the 1706 census or the 1711/1715 Soldier list -- Holden's Staten Idland: the history of Richmond County" edited and compiled by Richard Dickenson. 2002. Colonial Period: 1661-1776, grew from first few families to 3,000. Family names of Some Early Settlers.
--- Oyster Bay (Long Island): From "Frost Genealogy: Descendants of William Frost of Oyster Bay, NY" by Josephine Frost, 1912. This family lived in Oyster Bay for 200 years as Friends. Brothers William and John Frost left Boston ~1653 for Long Island. William and his descendants stayed in Oyster Bay for generations; his brother John and his descendants lived in New Haven,CT. No descendants of either moved to VA (although, in a section of "unconnected Frost lines", it did mention William Frost who married Rebecca Wetzel -- this was William's son Amos' son!!) (source: pdf book or read online). The Oyster Bay family does not link up to the VA family. This Oyster Bay Frost family was Quaker (see records detailed above); the 1969 vol III of Hinshaw's "Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy" acknowledged "Sixty Long Island Families" (Cocks), and the published Family Genealogies of: Cocks, Cox, Frost, Underhill, Seaman, ones, and the Oyster Bay "Town" Records 1653-1878.
--- In the same section of "unconnected Frost lines" it does have a Long Island Abraham Frost with records in 1674-1694, with wife Susan, and mentions an Isaac Frost as well; but there is another record for Abraham Frost in 1754. There is not thought to be any relation of this line to our William Frost line of Virginia who does name sons Abraham and Isaac. Plus, this is Long Island, not Staten Island.

Howsmon. The Huysman/Housman family of Staten Island is not related to our Virginia branch. A 1955 booklet "The Housman (Huysman) - Simonson Family of Staten Island, NY" by Elmer Van Name, does not even refer to the Virginia Howsmon family in the genealogy.
--- Housman. We have no means of ascertaining when the first of this name came to America from Holland. The earliest mention of the name is found in the assessment roll of Boswyck (Bushwick) L. I., where the name of Charles Housman occurs in the years 1675 and 1676. -- Annals of Staten island, from its discovery to the present time. By J. J. Clute, p.391. The earliest church records list John Housman married to Wynje Syumons (Simonson) with childen born 1726-1748 in Staten Island.
--- This Staten Island family is Dutch and no members are known to have any Viginia ties. Our Howmon family is thought to be of English heritage and Quakers, who came to Virginia from MD/PA.

Britton. The Britton branch of Staten Island is related to our Virginia branch, but not thought (only by me, DLH) to be ancestors.
--- Britton: This family is of French descent, and their name was originally written Breton, another example of the change of French names into English. The earliest mention of the name in connection with the Island, is that of Capt., sometimes call Col. Nicklos, who was born in 1679, and died Jan. 12, 1740 -- Annals of Staten island, from its discovery to the present time. By J. J. Clute, p.348. This book also mentions the older William and Nathaniel Britton, who were older than Col. Nicklos Britton.
--- A more definitive genealogy of the Britton family is "Britton Genealogy Early generations from Somersetshire, England to Staten Island, New York", 1970, by Elmer Van Name. Although it concentrates on Richard's son Nathaniel, it does include William as "believed to be a son" -- "it has been asserted by an eminent historian that Nathaniel Britton arrived in America, with his brother, William, and that they settled in New Hampshire in 1652 (SIH 21:17), and later moved to Newtown and Flatland." (SIH is The Staten Island Historian, a periodical, published by SIHS -- the Staten Island Historical Society, Richmondtown, S.I., N.Y.). There is no mention of brother Cananuiel.
--- Britton DNA testing -- chart
--- The Britton family is known to be English and not French. The American Brittons descend from Richard Britton b.1585 Batcombe. His children are known from son Richard's will: DNA testing confirms the relation of Richard Britton b.1585 of Batcombe with: (1) Richard Britton (1745-1820), (2) John W. Britton (b.3/17/1812 Frederick,VA), and (3) Nicholas Britton (d.1769 MD). More DNA testing of Nathaniel, Richard and Cananuiel descendants could confirm the lineage.
--- While it seems certain that Jesse Britton (1759 Berks,PA-1842 Pickaway,OH) is related (grandson) to John Britton (~1695-1784 Bucks,PA), it is uncertain that John had NY connections. I believe John's grandfather is more likely to be Quaker Cananuiel (~1610s/1620s England-1682 Chester,PA) than Cananuiel's brothers Nathaniel, Daniel, Or William of NY -- see discussion. The Staten Island Brittons are not Quakers, do not show up in the Quaker records, and have no descendants who go to VA.

Note: Of the three surnames, Frost is the most common. In 1790 in the 11 states in the census (Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont), there were a total of 234 Frost households, and 22 John Frosts. (Compared to 95 Brittons, and only 20 Howsmon/Houseman.) Although the name John is a common given name for many families, and relatives would likely be of the same religion, the occurance of the same Frost names in the two states in Quaker records and perhaps more importantly, the PA-VA land record grants to John Frost, lends credence to the possibility of this being relatives of the same extended family (above).

--- work in progress --- incorporate in:

Britton. My Britton branch (Jesse Britton -- 1759-1842) is in Berks,PA in the 1750s, Bucks,PA in the 1770s, and Frederick,VA in the 1780s. While virtually all genealogists would agree that he must be related to John Britton of Bucks,PA (~1695-1784), probably a grandson, genealogists have tried to determine which Britton of Staten Island John is related to. I (DLH) forward the new hypothesis that John was related to none of the NY Brittons, but instead to their brother, Cananuiel Britton, the Quaker who emigrated to Chester,PA with William Penn in 1682. As the Brittons, including John Britton, intermarried extensively with the Stillwell family, I included them in the Quaker research. -- Jesse Britton patriot

Frost. My Frost branch is related to John Frost (~1700-1760s) who founded the Quaker Hopewell Meeting in Frederick,VA. It is unknown where he migrated from, with NY being one of the possibilities listed in print. Thus, -- William Britton Lord Dunmore's war

Howsmon. Howsmon was also said to have been in NY, and is listed as part of the triumvirate (Britton-Frost-Howsmon) of families to have immigrated to VA from NY through PA. -- John Howsmon Lord Dunmore's war

Others. Other possible Quaker ancestors include Gibson and Maiden. Neither of these families were known to have any NY roots; both are thought to have immigrated to Pennsylvania.

Despite the hypothesized Quaker backgrounds, or at least the Quaker backgrounds of their relatives, all of our ancestors bore arms before and during the Revolution, so the only Quaker records that can be found for them will be in the only late-1650s to mid-1750s. Unfortunately, most of these early records in PA, VA (Hopewell MM), and SC (Wateree) have been lost, which is impeding research greatly. Perhaps when the earliest records from Great Britain are digitized it will be able to find the families there (see more below).

Goals

While there are records that prove that relatives of our Britton and Frost ancestors were Quaker, we still have not been able to uncover any Quaker records for our ancestors. Likely there would have been records at Hopewell (Frederick,VA) but for the 1759 fire. All our ancestors were early to bear arms, not only in the Revolution in 1776 but also in previous wars (Lord Dunmore's War) leading up to the Revolution. If they had been Quakers, they would have been disowned for taking up arms, or even just taking an Oath of Allegiance. I (DLH) am guessing that several of these ancestors were in fact Quaker, but left the church over the military disagreement, or perhaps because they chose to marry someone outside the faith -- Britton, Frost, Gibson, and maybe also Howsmon and Maiden. They migrated with Quakers. They settled in Quaker communities. Their relatives were Quakers. There is a stong Quaker link, so it is thought likely there will be some very early Quaker records for our ancestors somewhere. But even if there are none for our ancestors, the early records for their relatives will illuminate their heritage.

So the first goal is to find the early records to determine when they immigrated to America, and to which state. It is known that Britton, Gibson and Howsmon were in PA before VA, and it is thought the Maidens were in PA before NC. So Pennsylvania is the obvious place to concentrate; unfortunately, there are so many early Quaker meetings there that until the records are digitized, searching is extremely laborious.

A second goal is to confirm nationality, so that more research can be done in Great Britain where the Quaker faith was founded by George Fox in 1652. Quaker records in Great Britain back to late 1650s (when the first registers were kept), but until they are digitized, one must know not only the country but also the town. Many of these earliest records exist, specifically due to the persecution of Quakers at this time. And the 1836 Registration Act and 1836 Marriage Act required the Quaker registers to be surrendered to the courts in England; 1445 registers were surrendered, but digests were made before their surrender. Another 121 registers were surrendered in 1857 after digests made. Original registers are at the Public Records Office in London, and the digests at the Friends House Library in London. Scotland registers are also available at the Friends House Library. Ireland was not subject to the Act; their registers include an invaluable multi-generational "family list".

Finally modern DNA research will be invaluable to identify random branches as belonging to the same tree. This research may indeed confirm if the VA Brittons descend from the Quaker Cananuiel, and if the VA Frosts are related to the Frostburg Frosts. When close relatives are identified, it will be possible to cast a bigger research net.


Footnotes

William Wade Hinshaw

William Hinshaw (1867 IA-1947 DC) devoted the last 16 years of his life to writing the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, culling genealogical information out of a myriad of original documents, the Quaker monthly meeting records; his encyclopedia includes over a half-million entries. The former baritone of the Metropolitan Opera and opera producer began research into his personal ancestry upon his retirement in 1923. He found that not only did he have to search thousands of minute books and registers, but that they were in serious jeopardy of being lost due to deterioration. He estimated that 50% of Americans whose famlies immigrated in the early days were of Quaker descent. His unpublished genealogical data is at Swarthmore College.
--- 131 microfiche (#6051277) with multiple copies; 10 microfilms (#432597-432606); and available digitally at the FHC
--- the research guide included the listing of names in each volume: (Britton/Britain on #517008, no Frost, Gibson #517025, no Howsmon/Houseman, no Maiden/Madden, no Passwater)

Other important Quaker researchers

There are a myriad of other important researchers. Most of them and their works are detailed in the Utah Valley Regional FHC Research Guide research guide to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). This guide also provides details on the records in America and Britain, and examples of the types of records, and a complete copy of the 37-page "My Ancestors were Quakers, How can I find out more about them?" by Milligan & Thomas, with a lot of good information on the records from Great Britain. It is hoped that all of the Quaker records will soon be digitized so that research is (relatively) easy both in America and Great Britain!

More information on Quakers

NY county map (click on picture for a larger view)
New York map.

As it states in the Encyclopedia Foreword: "the complete genealogical data found in all records and minutes (known to be in existence) of all of the Friends' Meetings ever organized in New York City and on Long Island, these records dating from the time of the first arrival of Friends at New Amsterdam (called New York from 1664) in 1657. ... Although we name only the four Monthly Meetings -- New York, Westbury, Jericho and Flushing -- the memberships of these four Monthly Meetings covered a wide territory and were members of established Meetings for Worship at many places, including: New York, Purchase, Westchester, Flushing, Oyster Bay, Westbury, Hempstead, Gravesend, Maspeth Kills, Jericho, Cow Neck, Rockaway, Huntington, Secatogue, Half Hollow Hills, Jerusalem, Bethpage, Matinecock, Brooklyn, Manhattanville, Seamans and possibly others, the records of which were kept by the above named four Monthly Meetings. [Check on this -- I (DLH) believe that none of these places were on Staten Island. I do not believe there were Quakers on Staten Island.] The Britton family ties were to Mespat/Gravesend (LI) in ~1650s-1678 and Staten Island by 1780 (sources). The NY Britton patriarchs were brothers to Quaker Cananuiel Britton of Chester,PA.
--- The counties (in parentheses) of each meeting: Purchase (Westchester), Westchester (Westchester), Flushing (Queens), Oyster Bay (Long Island/Nassau), Westbury (Nassau), Hempstead (Nassau), Gravesend (Brooklyn), Maspeth Kills (Queens), Jericho (Long Island), Cow Neck (Long Island/Nassau), Rockaway (Queens), Huntington (Long Island/Suffolk), Secatogue (Long Island?), Half Hollow Hills (Long Island), Jerusalem (Yates), Bethpage (Long Island), Matinecock (Oyster Bay/Nassau), Brooklyn (Brooklyn), Manhattanville (Manhattan), Seamans (??) -- only Jerusalem is in upstate NY; the rest are near Manhattan. These other meetings were added as the population of New York City exploded in the 18th and 19th centuries -- 3000 in 1680; 4900 in 1700; 33,100 in 1790; 197,100 in 1830; and 515,500 in 1850.