Britton Heritage Theories

Note that church records (and tombstones) from the latter 1600s and early 1700s are largely non-existant, so genealogy research of these early families relies upon court records (wills, lawsuits) and land records, Since these sources do not have ages of the people involved, and the fact that the Brittons often named children the same names (cousins, uncles, etc), research is difficult if not impossible. And then, if the death is unexpected, often there is no will, and therefore no definitive family composition.

First Generation Theories: Emigrant Brothers.

Are William and Daniel brothers to Nathaniel and Cananuiel? It should be noted that while Nathaniel of Staten Island is known to be a brother to Cananuiel of Philadelphia, and they are brothers to Richard Britton of Bisley, England, the other two Brittons (William and Daniel) in NY at this time are unconfirmed as siblings. Richard's 1678 English will mentions brother Cananuel and also brother Nathaniel of New York; Nathaniel's 1683 will mentioned the ten-pound note left by his brother Richard Britten of Bisley (see sources). Due to the fact that William arrives on Long Island and moves to Staten Island at the same times as Nathaniel, and has children and died at the same time, it has been universally accepted that William and Nathaniel Britton were siblings. William's omission in Richard's will is curious. I (DLH 2008) have two main theories to espouse as to why William and Daniel were omitted: religion and Dutch heritage.

Much debate has been caused in modern times by Richard's lack of reference to what is assumed to be his brother William Brittain in Staten Island, and additionally no reference to what is also thought to be another potential brother Daniel Britton. William and Nathaniel Brittain lived in close proximity to one another in Long Island and Staten Island NY, while brother Cananuiel was a Quaker and lived in the Philadelphia area. In American records, Nathaniel and William are widely accepted as siblings, but William's ommission from his brother Richard's will makes this subject to debate. Perhaps it was William's non-conformist beliefs in the 1660s/1670s that led to his exclusion from Richard's will -- there is a note that "William Britton and Nicholas Stillwell had taken part in Non-Conformist Rel Serv on Long Island", which would have been in the 1660s/1670s, just around the time that Richard wrote this will. However, since Richard made a bequest to his Quaker brother, this is not considered as a high probability. Perhaps Richard felt that William was well-off financially and did not need the money, as William had just built a large home in Staten Island. Perhaps they had had a falling out, and there was still ill will. Perhaps a combination of religion and ill-will, as William's wife was Dutch and had the children baptised in the Dutch church. Perhaps William was the youngest and a half-brother, born to a second wife of Richard Sr (total speculation; nothing is known about Richard Sr's wife). In any case, it is odd, and I wonder if William is more likely therefore to be a cousin to Nathaniel and Richard, rather than a brother; I think Richard would have mentioned William, and perhaps given him or at least given to his assumed-namesake nephew Richard some token item, such as a ring or a book, if William had been a sibling. Note that the same holds true for the possible sibling Daniel and Daniel's son Richard. Could it be perhaps more than coincidental that both William and Daniel married Dutch women and had their children baptised in a Dutch church? -- DLH, 2011

What is William's wife's surname? Note that while Nathaniel's wife is well-documented and agreed to be Anne Stillwell, there is dispute over the surname of William's wife Maria. There is one reference that she is also a Stillwell, sister to Ann (and many genealogists have used this one reference to further this in their trees), however there is also contradictory documentation. -- "He [William Britton] appears to have married Mary, the daughter of Nicholas Stillwell of Gravesend, for on Sep 26, 1663 he is described as a son in law.--Staten Island and Its People, Leng and Davis, Vol 1-5, 1930 -versus- a marriage record for Mary Stillwell and Adam Mott on 7/16/1678. I, DLH 2008, think it is more likely she is not a Stillwell, as it would appear that Maria might be of Dutch heritage instead of English heritage -- the 1678 baptism record was for Mary only (not William) and their seven children in the Dutch Church of Flatbush [Brooklyn], and these were the only Brittons in this church; the Stillwells were decidedly English (See Stillwell Tree) and Ann Stillwell and Nathaniel Britton did not baptise any of their children, born about the same times, at the Dutch church. Unluckily, Nicholas Stillwell's will did not mention the names of his children to make this definitive. Note that although Ann Stillwell was born circa 1637, Mary Stillwell is thought by Stillwell genealogists to have been born circa 1658 -- since Maria Britton is known to have been born 1645, if this 1658 birthdate is correct, or even close to correct, Maria Britton was definitely not a Stillwell. On the other hand, the baptism record for Daniel Britton's son Richard is curious, as it lists a witness at Annetie Stillwell -- Annetie is a Dutch name. Without more evidence, my best guess is that William's wife Maria was Dutch and not a Stillwell.

William and Nathaniel's birthyears. While many genealogists have used a date circa 1745 for William, this appears to be due simply to the fact that his wife Maria is known to have been born circa 1745 based on her age of 33 upon her baptism with her children in 1778. A better estimated birth year range for both brothers is 1730s. --- William Britton came to New York some time before 1661. The first mention of the name William Britton is taken from the “Year Book” of the Holland Society of New York for 1900, page 130, as follows: “Feb 12, 1661/2 Richard Wilkeson a mason living at New Amsterdam, and William Britton, an Englishman living at Mespat (Newtown, Long Island, NY -- see history) declare at the request of Joris Dobson, innkeeper at New Amsterdam, that Andrew Halwel about three weeks ago, arrived at the house of Dobson, drunk etc.” If William had been born in 1745, he would have been only 16 in 1661, and would he have been in an inn (bar) and be called an Englishman? It is more likely he was born at least by 1739, 6-15 years older, to be a more reasonable 22-31 in 1661, 23-32 when he gets married and 24-33 upon the birth of his first child. Additionally, his (assumed) brother Richard, Vicar at Bisley, was born in 1613-1614, so a 1645 birthdate, over 30 years later, would be highly unusual, and a birthdate in the 1630s much more reasonable. Nathaniel is assumed to have been born prior to the 1637 birthyear of his wife Ann Stillwell. With no age mentioned on any extant documents, and no tombstones, both William and Nathaniel may have been older, even born in the 1620s.

Second Generation Theories -- children of the four Britton brothers

Even though the children of William and Nathaniel are well-documented, many modern genealogists have put in print, particularly on the internet, incorrect genealogical trees. Researchers should use due care to check sources, and assume that other children added to these trees are largely incorrect.

? -1. Cananuiel -- no confirmed children. While William and Nathaniel died in 1683/1684 in Staten Island, Cananuiel never lived on Long Island or Staten Island, having likely immediately settled in the Philadelphia area since William Penn was sympathetic to Quakers. Cananuiel died in Chester,PA (near Philadelphia) in 1682, just prior to the deaths of his brothers William and Nathaniel. He died intestate, so no children are known; his survivors were not named in court documents (see sources). However, there were Britton records in Chester in the 1680s, and even Quaker records, which convinced Quaker genealogist Gilbert Cope that Cananuiel was married and had children, specifically, Peter Britton who also died in Chester in 1710 -- no other Britton family is known to be in the Chester area at this time. It is thought that John is also a son; other potential children have not been identified in any records.
√ -2. Nathaniel -- children confirmed -- Nathaniel (b. circa 1666), Sarah (born circa 1668), Rebecca (b. circa 1669), Richard (born circa 1671?) and Abigail (born circa 1674). These children are known from Nathaniel's will.
? -3. Daniel -- one son Richard confirmed, baptized 8/5/1668 in NYC. Since there are no more records found for Daniel or Richard, it is assumed they left NY or perhaps died young, perhaps even before 1678 since they are not mentioned in Daniel's brother Richard's will.
√ -4. William -- children confirmed -- William (b. 1663), Nathaniel (b. 1665), Richard (b. 1667), Joseph (b. 1669), Benjamin (b. 1671), Jan/John (b. 1673), Daniel (b. 1676/7) and Nicholas (b. 1680). Although Nicholas was born after the baptisms in 1678, he is known to be William's son as he is not mentioned in Nathaniel's will; there is supposedly a record of his baptism as well.

Third Generation Theories -- John Britton of Bucks County
born ~1795, will of 1770 in Bucks,PA, death in 1785 in Bucks,PA
who is John's father, who are John's wives.

John's father. There has been no definitive documentation found as to whom John's father was, and there are many conflicting theories that have been published in print and online over the past 100 years. Given that all generations and all families used the name John, naming patterns (especially since children who died young often have no records at all) are of no virtual use. Given the ferry across the river (see map) from Staten Island to Middlesex,NJ, migration was not difficult, so place/proximity is not definitive. Even religion has not proved to be definitive, as many Quakers married outside the faith. Finally, while Brittons living in the same place might be assumed to be siblings, this is not definitive either; cousins can be as close as brothers, especially if the cousins marry into the same families -- so marriage information must be examined too. Thus, unless the wills and/or land records list familial relationships, much of what has been published in the third generation is guesswork. While most genealogists list the emigrant William as John's (d.1784 Bucks,PA) grandfather, it could also be William's brother Quaker Cananuiel or there is even a (slight) possibility that his grandfather could be William's brother Nathaniel or even Daniel instead. These possibilities are based on the following:

This John Britton is assumed to have been born circa 1695 as he is married by 1718 to Elizabeth Stillwell and she was born ~1695. This birthdate is important since it would preclude several Brittons as his father since they would be too young/married too late. However, there could also have been unknown earlier marriages of some of these Brittons, so care must be used based on known marriages only. Although many sources have his birthplace as Staten Island, this is likely just a deduction as that is where his-supposed-father-William lived at that time; no baptism or census data has been found to confirm.

Naming patterns. Based on Christian names alone, it would seem most likely that John's father was Richard; he named his first-born son Richard. Then the sons were William, Nathaniel, Nathan and Joseph. However, especially since it is unknown if there were babies who died, this is far from definitive. And, it is curious that John did not name a son after himself, as was the custom in his family. It is my (DLH 2008) guess that John did name an early son John Jr, and that this son died young -- note that this son is not the John that shows up in 1762 as a single man in Middletown,Bucks tax lists or as the John Jr. in the 1785 Hilltown Baptist Church records -- any child John of Bucks John would have been born circa 1720s, and these two records would likely be too late. At any rate, if John of Bucks did name a son John, this child would have died without issue prior to John Sr's will of 1870.

Quaker ties. John Britton and Elizabeth Stillwell are known to be Quakers. "John Britten, witness to marriage of Joseph Wardell to Margaret Parker, both of Shrewsbury, 10-21-1718 -- Friends (Quaker) records of Shrewsbury, NJ. I (DLH 2008) feel that the Cananuiel link is a strong possibility as it is appears to be his grandson Samuel who first went to Frederick, VA in the 1730s, prior to our ancestor Joseph buying land there in 1752. Plus, it is Samuel's daughter Susannah Britton Crow who moves first to Pickaway County, OH about 10 years prior to Jesse. And finally, most strong, is the fact that both John and his first wife Elizabeth Stillwell also had Quaker ties, since they appear in a Quaker record as witnesses to a marriage in 1718. However, Cananuiel did not have links to NJ, and there are also ties to descendants of Cananuiel's brother Nathaniel -- it is Nathaniel's son William who moves to PA and whose older sons volunteer in Bucks County during the Revolution, serving in the same regiment as Jesse. Curiously, at least by 1770 and 1785, John and his wife Elizabeth are members of the Hilltown Baptist Church, and do not appear in Quaker records (see wifes below for more on this). However, the Brittons are mentioned frequently in John Dyer's diary -- and John's father was a Quaker minister, and the southern part of Bucks was widely settled by Quakers in the early 1700s.

Monmouth,NJ ties. Elizabeth Stillwell is known to have been from Monmouth -- her father Jeremiah Stillwell was a member of a grand jury there in 1700, and listed in an affadavit in 1707. However, this is not definitive, as Monmouth and Middlesex are contiguous. The marriage would only suggest that John may have had reason to move to Monmouth upon marriage, circa 1715. The many generations of ties between the Britton and Stillwell families alone would have been enough to foster a marriage between John and Elizabeth; proximity of residence would have been somewhat superfluous. Therefore, just because they lived in Monmouth at least in 1718, does not confirm that John was from Monmouth, or even NJ. Since both William's and Nathaniel's children emigrated to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but still had Staten Island ties in terms of marriages, it is impossible to conclude anything definite based on proximity of residence alone, although this does suggest that William is perhaps the more likely grandfather, and not Cananuiel, as the first known record is NJ with no mention of PA.

However, Jeremiah's parents were Nicholas Stillwell and Annetje Van Dyck; Jeremiah was baptised in the Dutch Church at New Amsterdam in 1662. Surely, it is Jeremiah's mother Annetje Stillwell who was a witness/godmother to Daniel's son Richard christened in the Dutch church in 1668. This certainly brings in a link between John Britton of Bucks and the immigrant Daniel. But this certainly is not definitive, as many Stillwells married into many of the Britton lines. But it does bring religion into play, as it does not appear that Jeremiah Stillwell (or his parents) were Quaker, although it is possible that he took up that religion later in life, after moving to NJ. If so, this indicates that John may have been the Quaker, rather than Elizabeth, hinting at a link to a descendancy from Cananuiel.

In print, John's father has been thought to be John of Monmouth County married to an Rachel, specifically by Thomas Bailey (see book p.366, 373, 374), but this is incorrect. This supposition, clearly so labeled by Bailey, was apparently based simply on John Sr. having Monmouth ties (land reocrds and estate inventory) and the same Christian name. However, land records from Staten Island clearly document that this "Monmouth John" (John Sr) was actually Nathaniel's son, and not William's son, and from other records it is known that this John was married to Rachel Wall and their son was Nathaniel and not "Bucks John" (see sources).

Other places in print (and especially on the internet) list John's father as William's son Richard of Middlesex county, married to Ann Aft. To date, no confirmation record has been found to confirm this hypothesis either. While Richard is perhaps the most likely probability, it is important to realize that this is not the only possibility.
John's father possibilities:

?-1a. Cananuiel's son Peter -- is known from his will to have a son Jonathan, is from Chester,PA close to Bucks, Peter's daughter marries a Philips from Bucks in 1729, Peter's son Samuel moves to Frederick,VA and Samuel's daughter Susannah Britton Crow moves to Pickaway,OH, Peter and his children are Quakers, the son Jonathan is known to be alive in 1810, and has no conflicting records. As strong as these ties are, it would appear that Peter's children are too young, born in the early 1700s instead of the late 1690s, and Jonathan was mentioned last in the will, suggesting he is the youngest child. Additionally, all mentions of this child are for "Jonathan", in the 1710 will and as a witness to the remarriage of his mother in 1717; whereas all the records for John of Bucks, 1718-1784 are all for "John."

?-1b. Cananuiel's son John -- Based on a land record of the 1680s, Cananuiel is thought to have had at least one more son John, assumed to have been born in the 1650s/1660s, like Peter. There is room for a son John born ~1696, however, this is just conjecture, and with no known early PA roots for John of Bucks, and with no record of this John after his mention in the 1660s land record, it is not clear that this John survived to adulthood or married.

X-2a. Nathaniel's son Nathaniel is known not to be John's father. Nathaniel Jr is known to have a son John, but this is the John of Monmouth, married to Rachel. However, this branch is still connected to John of Bucks, as Nathaniel Jr's son William (~1723 SI-1804 PA) had two sons who served in the Revolution out of Bucks, in the same companies as John's sons/grandsons.

?-2b. Nathaniel's son Richard. Nothing is known of this Richard, thought to be born circa 1670. He was listed in his father's 1684 will, but he is not on the 1706 Staten Island census. Based solely on the fact that his brother's grandchildren move to Bucks to volunteer in the revolution, and that John named his first son Richard, it would appear that this is a possibility. With no record of this Richard after his mention in his father's will 1684, it is not clear that this Richard survived to adulthood or married.

?-3. Daniel's son Richard -- since nothing is known about this branch, and no records found, it is assumed they died young, or only with daughters. There is a possibility that since neither Daniel nor Richard were mentioned in Daniel's brother's will (Richard of Bisley -- see above), they both were deceased as of 1678. It is deemed unlikely that John of Bucks descends from this branch, who has only one record of a child born in NY in 1668. However, since John's first wife was Elizabeth Stillwell, and it was her paternal grandmother who was the godmother/witness to Daniel's son Richard, this is still a possibility. And, of course, I like the name since John and Elizabeth named their first son Richard. But the fact that Daniel and his son Richard cannot be found in Gravesend or NJ where Jeremiah's family located seems to make this less likely.

?-4a. William's son William Jr -- died intestate in 1704 in Staten Island. Is only known for certain to have had a 3rd generation son William, who married Rachel Stillwell, and who moved from SI to Philadelphia circa 1710s. It is possible that William Jr had a second son John -- the move to Philadelphia fits, and the Stillwell ties fit. The dates would fit too as William III was born 1685. However, William III and Rachel worshipped at the Abington Presbyterian Church, and none of their descendants seem to have any ties to Bucks or John's family, and this was a more distant Stillwell relative. Unluckily, the 1706 Staten Island Census does not have a page for the Britton children, or this would be able to determine this definitively.

?-4b. William's son Nathaniel -- died intestate in 1702 in Staten Island. Nathaniel was married to Mary Stillwell, and is only known for certain to have had a son Nathaniel Jr, born 1688, who lived in the Britton home on Staten Island until it was sold in 1714 and then moved to Philadelphia. Again the dates and place would fit. But again, the family worshipped at the Abington Presbyterian Church. However, this possibility would appear perhaps stronger as Nathaniel Jr. named his only son John, and his daughter Mary married Nicholas VanSandt of Bucks,PA in 1744, and Nathaniel Jr was an executor of Jacobus VanSandt's will (listed as a "friend"), and Jacobus was originally of Flatbush,LI prior to moving to Bucks.

?-4c. William's son Richard -- died intestate 1732 Middlesex,NJ. This is the most popular theory espoused by modern genealogists, but by far not the only, placement of John in the Britton tree. His descendants are unknown, and he has New Jersey ties, with Middlesex being contiguous to Monmouth. However, no records of a son named John have been found to confirm John of Bucks placement here.

?-4d. William's son Joseph -- Only two children are known for certain for Joseph: a baptism record in the Dutch Church for son James in 1707 and a much younger son Joseph, Jr, likely born 1790s. This Joseph also moved to Monmouth, apparently with brother Richard, based on a 1714 will/1716 inventory for merchant John Bowne of Middletown,Monmouth,NJ where mortgagors included: Nathaniel, Elias, Jeremiah, and Richard Stillwell; Joseph Brittain, Joseph Brittain junior, and Richar Brittain (among many others). While children could purchase items at estate sales, it is likely that only older teens/adults would carry accounts with merchants. While Joseph Jr may not be the son of Joseph, it is likely he is (especially since Richard did not apparently name a son Joseph, based on the children in his will). Thus, Joseph would likely be age 45+, born prior to 1670 -- only William's Joseph, born circa 1669 matches. And Joseph Jr, by calculation, would likely have been 20+ in 1716 or born circa 1696. Obviously, this leaves room for more sons between 1696 and 1707, which could certainly be our John of Bucks. Also noteworthy is that John's future father-in-law Jeremiah Stillwell was one of the mortgagors listed in this record. A Joseph Britton sold land in Hunterdon,NJ in 1710, bought in Monmouth in 1714 and sold in Monmouth in 1723. This is considered another strong possibility.

X-4e. William's son Benjamin. Since Banjamin is on the 1706 Staten Island census as is apparently his wife-to-be Martha Stillwell, this is not a possibility, unless Benjamin was a recent widower at that time.

X-4f. William's son John. Since John was born in 1673, it is unlikely that he would be the father of a John born circa 1695, but not impossible. No records for this John have been found after his baptism in 1678. Although many genealogists list this John as the one who marries a Rachel and died in Monmouth,NJ in 1754, this is incorrect, as a 1736 SI land record definitely states that "Monmouth" John was the son of Nathaniel. There is a John Britton who shows up in Dutchess,NY by 1748, but it is simple conjecture that this could be a match. Since no records have been found for this John after his baptism in 1678, it is possible he died young.

X-4g. William's son Daniel is known not to be John's father since he died in 1733 in Middlesex.NJ and left a will. Furthermore, none of his children have any Bucks or Quaker ties.

X-4h. William's son Nicholas is known not to be John's father since he died in 1740 in SI and left a will.

In summary, there is no overwhelmingly clear choice, not even a preponderance of evidence clear choice, in picking a father for John of Bucks. There are reasons he could belong to any of the four immigrant brothers -- Cananuiel due to the Quaker/PA links, Daniel due to the Annetjke Stillwell link, and William who is the popular choice due to Stillwell and NJ ties; only Nathaniel is considered to be a very low possibility. As I believe Elizabeth Stillwell Britton died soon after her son Richard was born, and John remarried a Rebecca VanSandt around the time of his move to Bucks, and Bucks is known for its Quaker roots (the first church in Bucks,PA was a Quaker Meetinghouse founded in 1727), it seems like John was the Quaker in the family. This underscores the importance of the Quaker ties, and makes me lean towards John being a grandson of Cananuiel. My second choice is William. I consider Daniel and Nathaniel as the lesser likely choices.

Note that the appearance of a William and Abraham Britton in Bucks, apparently concurrent to John and his generation, has made several genealogists assume that John did have brothers (although these could be cousins as well). Particularly of interest is William -- as John and William purchased land at the same time in Bucks in the 1730s (see sources). More records found in NY or NJ or PA might help clear this up. If John is found to have a brother William and/or Abraham, this would greatly aid in determining his place in the Britton tree.

Other Brittons in Bucks County according to tax records: to be filled in.....

John's wives. Only one wife is known for certain for John -- Elizabeth Stillwell, daughter of Jeremiah Stillwell of Monmouth,NJ. Although John's will (written in 1770) mentions wife Elizabeth, and most genealogists have assumed this is one and the same Elizabeth Stillwell, this is far from clear. In fact, genealogist Thomas Bailey mentioned only one wife for John, but it was a VanSandt (see book). I (DLH 2008) think both are correct -- that John's first wife was Elizabeth Stillwell of Monmouth, father of at least son Richard, and that his second wife was a VanSandt from Bucks, the mother of the rest of his children, and probably the catalyst behind the family's move (since John was the first Britton in Bucks). Since this VanSandt is known to be a Rebecca from VanSandt genealogies/wills, the 1761 marriage record in Bucks for Elizabeth Stevens and John Britton would then be a third marriage for John, and satisfy the requirement of his wife being Elizabeth in 1770.

John's first wife: Elizabeth Stillwell. Her father Jeremiah Stillwell was a member of a grand jury in Monmouth in 1700, and listed in an affadavit in 1707. Note that Monmouth and Middlesex counties are contiguous, and neither are far from either Staten Island or Philadelphia. The marriage would only suggest that John Jr and Elizabeth may have had reason to move to Monmouth upon marriage, circa 1715. The many generations of ties between the Britton and Stillwell families alone would have been enough to foster a marriage between John and Elizabeth; proximity of residence would have been somewhat superfluous.
John and Elizabeth lived in Shrewsbury in Monmouth, and were Quakers there, based on land records and Quaker records (see sources). It is certain that the "Bucks" John and the "Shrewsbury" John are one and the same from land contracts (see below). It is assumed John lived in Shrewsbury from 1718 to 1725 when he purchased land in Bucks.
The confirmation of this marriage is based on the bequest of a sizeable portion of Jeremiah's estate to John's son Richard in the 1740s wills of John's father-in-law Jeremiah Stillwell -- note that the early wills leave money directly to the nephew Richard, and the last will in 1749, after Richard's untimely death, leaves the same money to his daugher Elizabeth ("in NY").
Curiously, many genealogists, starting with John Stillwell, have surmised that this meant that when John left for Bucks in 1727, he left his first-born son behind in Monmouth, at what would have been age 11! And, John Stillwell had calculated Richard's birth year as 1716, so knew he would be a pre-teen. However, this seems like such an odd scenario that I (DLH 2008) do not believe it to be true. It seems to me to be much more likely that Elizabeth Stillwell died after Richard's birth, and the rest of John's children were by a second wife. And this would also explain why Jeremiah did not leave any money to any more of John's children, or even more telling, to his daughter Elizabeth (who would have still been alive in the one-wife hypothesis). Then Richard did not need to have been left behind, but returned to NJ for his Stillwell relatives, and was the only John Britton child who was a Stillwell descendant, so was the only inclusion in the will.
John's second wife: Rebecca VanSandt. From the VanSandt genealogy "Rebecca, daughter of Garret, Sr., married a BRITTAN, whose son Joseph and grandson Cornelius are mentioned in the will of Cornelius VAN SANT" -- 1789 Cornelius Vansandt will mentioned "Cornelius Brittain, son of my nephew Joseph Brittain." Obviously, the only possiblity for a Britton nephew for Cornelius VanSandt is for him to have had a sister, who likely is already deceased, who married a Britton. Cornelius lived in Bucks; the VanSandts are of Dutch heritage.
Note: it is this will that led several genealogists to logically conclude that John's wife (second wife) was a VanSandt -- there seems to be no other interpretation for Joseph Brittain being a nephew; Joseph's father must have married Cornelius VanSandt's sister. Specifically in print, genealogist Thomas Bailey (p.373) only examined this one will, so surmised that John's only wife was a VanSandt. The VanSandt genealogists knew her name to be Rebecca. While this is a common method of deduction in genealogy for this period, it should be noted that it is not certain that Rebecca married John; it is possible it was another Britton in Bucks, specifically, there had been a William Britton buying land at the same time that John did in the 1730s. (Note that while it would seem to make sense that this William is the cousin married to Mary Collins, since it is his older sons who volunteer out of Bucks in the Revolution, he was born in the early 1720s and would be too young to be this landowner in the 1730s.)

John's third wife: Elizabeth Stevens. From his 1770 (date of the writing of the will -- wife Elizabeth clearly predeceased John, and the will was not revised before his death in 1784) will, it is clear that on that date John was married to an Elizabeth, so clearly if the deductions above are correct, Rebecca VanSandt Britton must have died prior to 1770 and John remarried to some Elizabeth. There is a record from 1761 in Montgomery,PA for a marriage on August 22, 1761 for John Britton and Elizabeth Stevens. Montgomery is a county that abuts Bucks (Bucks shares most of its western border with Montgomery), so this is not unreasonable to think it could be a match. And since John does not have a son John, there is no other known John Britton to whom this record could refer. Note that only "our" John is on the Bucks tax list in 1760. However, since the marriage took place in Montgomery, it is possible that the John Britton for this marriage lived in another county.

Most importantly, the land records in Bucks seem to back up these hypotheses:
1733 sale -- no mention of a wife
1752 purchase -- no mention of a wife
1759 sale -- by John Brittin of Plumsted, yeoman, ux Elizabeth of 1752 land) -- check this, as it seems it should have been 1765
1765 sale -- John Brittain of Hilltown and wife Elizabeth of land purchased 1752.
1767 purchase -- no mention of wife in land purchase from son Benjamin and his wife. Double check these -- 1759 throws monkey-wrench into these.
While these records do not specifically support the three-wife theory, since the records prior to 1761 do not specify a wife's name, neither do they refute it. Unfortunately, John Dyer's diary of the happenings around Dyerstown only started in 1763, two years after the supposed marriage record of "our" John with Elizabeth Stevens. One other piece of information is inconclusive -- the Hilltown Baptist Church records. In 1770 Nathan, John, Nathaniel, Joseph, Richard, Ann, Elizabeth and Rachel Britton were members of the Hilltown Church. As of 1783, Nathan and Richard had disappeared while the other six were joined by Abigail, John Jr and Jane. This is confusing, since although our John would still be alive, his wife Elizabeth had died in 1781 according to John Dyer's diary.
Look up Hilltown Baptist Church and Montgomery Baptist church records. Carolynn has 1761 date for Nathan's children Elijah, John and Rachel signing a petition to move from Montgomery to Hilltown. However, Elijah would be 3, John would be newborn and Rachel won't be born for 2 years. Are they babies? is it Sarah born circa 1760 instead of Rachel? These records might help confirm that 1761 marriage of John to Elizabeth Stevens. Note that Abigail Britton is most likely to be Patrick and Abigail Poe's daughter Abigail, and not our newborn daughter of Jesse and Anna Gibson. While most of these match up to John's family, it is not exact. In 1770 it would be John and his wife Elizabeth, his son Richard was deceased, his son William and Mary have moved to MD, son Nathaniel and wife Rachel, son Nathan and wife Ann, son Joseph but his wife Mary is not there, son Benjamin and wife Margaret have moved to VA. So it is not clear why Joseph's wife is not listed, and who Richard is. The addition of John Jr does not mean a son to John -- in those days Jr was added to any name to distinguish from an older member in the family, like an uncle. CONFUSING. Makes me wonder if Joseph is ours, or if married. We know that Robert Gibson had a daughter Mary who married a Britton -- so she should have been on this list. Joseph is known to be married -- his tax records for 1759-1783 are not for a single man. And the church records show the couples in apparent order -- the first man Nathan is married to the first woman Ann -- 2nd John with 2nd Elizabeth, and 4rd Nathaniel to 3rd Rachel. Plus the numbers don't match up -- it is said to be 10 in 1783 -- but there were 8 in 1770 -2 +3 is only 9..... Look this up again.

Monmouth to Bucks. It is certain that the John who died in Bucks in 1784 was the one from Shrewbury in 1718. "John Britton purchased from Richard Hill, of Philadelphia, 370 acres of land in Plumstead township, Bucks County, PA on Dec 15, 1727. This is recited in a deed from John Britton of Plumstead, cordwainer, to Abraham Vickers of the township of "Chroasberry" (Shrewsbury), in the county of Monmouth, Nov 21, 1733, for half of this tract. Nathaniel Britton was a witness to this last deed."

Fourth Generation

Joseph moving to VA. Joseph married to Gibson.

Virginia Records

(continued) Joseph Britton (~3/7/1734/35 Bucks,PA?-after 1790 PA/VA?)
(continued) Jesse Britton (1759 Reading, Berks County, PA-1842 Pickaway,OH) -- moved to Frederick County,VA by 1780, and then alternated between VA and PA 1782-1790; moved to Pickaway County,OH circa 1806

New Garden, NC records (Quaker records; New Garden is near Greensboro) -- marriage of Thomas Brown, son of Thomas of Frederick Co., Va, married Margaret Moon, daughter of Simon of same place, 10th of 6th month, 1748. They had declared their marriage intention at Hopewell. Witnesses: ... Joseph Brittan, Mary Brittan, ... NOTE: Assuming this is "our" Joseph and Mary Brittan, showing up in Frederick, married, in 1748, it means that Joseph Britton was likely born prior to 1727 and Mary Gibson Britton prior to 1730. The Hopewell and New Garden Quaker churches seem to have often intermingled, even though in different states and 277 miles apart, or perhaps it was the same minister who wrote all his records in just one book that covered churches in both areas.

1752 -- Joseph Briton's Land Grant -- dated March 11, 1752 for 200 acres in Frederick County, on the North River of Cacapehon. NOTE: Although these two records (1748 and 1742) seem to belong to the same Joseph, it is not certain that this is Jesse's father. Since no land records have been found for Joseph's brother Benjamin in 1769+ (but Benjamin does show up on other Frederick records) and that Jesse and his brother Joseph live in Virginia off and on in the 1870s and 1880s prior to moving here in 1890 strongly suggests that this land grant was to Jesse's father, and this is where Jesse also settled in Winchester. See Virginia Northern Neck Land Grant documentation. Note: State of Virginia librarians confirm that a buyer had to be 21+ to purchase land. There were two earlier Brittons in Frederick County, VA -- Samuel Britton was in Frederick 1730s-1760s, known to be a cousin to Joseph. The second was James Brittain (wife Mary) in the 1740s and 1750s who "left to Carolina." (Note that other Brittons also go from Frederick VA to NC in the 1780s and 1790s.) (see sources) Note that these records do not indicate age, so it is possible that Joseph is a contemporary to Samuel and James, and not a generation younger.

1758 -- voting records for House of Burgesses (voting for Colo. Washington, Colo. Martin, or Mr. West) (Frost, Gibson, and Houseman voted) -- no Britton NOTE: since Britton was a landowner, he would have been eligible to vote if he had been present in Virginia; son Jesse's birth in 1759 in Berks/Bucks County confirms the Brittons were in Pennsylvania in 1758, and the lack of Joseph Britton voting suggests this is one-and-the-same Joseph. James is known to have moved to Carolina; but it is curious there is no record for Samuel voting (he died by 1764).

1/1783 -- Jesse and Anna Gibson Britton's daughter Abigail born in Virginia (verified by census data -- see Jesse's grandchildren).

~1785 -- Jesse and Anna Gibson Britton's son Joseph born in Virginia (verified by census data -- see Jesse's grandchildren).

1787 census -- none of "our" Brittons are listed on the 1787 VA census -- not Joseph or Nathan, or any of their sons Cornelius, Jesse, Elijah, etc. Note records above for Jesse and Joseph in Bucks, PA 1787-1790.

~1791 -- Jesse and Anna Gibson Britton's daughter Elizabeth born in Virginia (verified by census data -- see Jesse's grandchildren).

~1793 -- Jesse and Anna Gibson Britton's son Jesse Jr. born in Virginia (verified by census data -- see Jesse's grandchildren).

Joseph Brittain. Account of goods and chattels of Joseph Brittain. 12/6/1796.
Abstracts of Wills, inventories, and administration accounts of Frederick County, VA 1743-1800. by King, 1980

Will Book No. 6, 1795-1802, Frederick County, Virginia. BRITTON, Joseph (Britain). Appraisal. 16 Oct 1795/7 Apr 1796. (Bonds of Amos Albright, Jacob Landiss, for £320 Pa Money; Jacob Grimes note; notes on Adam Albert & McMunn, Wilson Britton, totaling £484.9.6-1/2). Appraisers: Robert Wood, Sampson Thomas, Jacob Rinker, James Smith. (p. 116-117) NOTE: it is noteworthy that the estate lists bonds in Pennsylvania money! Wilson Britton is thought to be a son of Joseph Britton; it is known that Wilson was one of at least four sons, as he "crossed the mountains in 1806 with three brothers" when he moved from Frederick County to Monongalia County, VA. Curious that the note he owes what is assumed to be his father was formalized in this inventory. Genealogist Thomas Bailey thought Joseph had sons Cornelius, Jesse, Joseph, John, Thomas and perhaps others, apparently based primarily on the 1790 PA census data (see Britton tree).

Will Book No. 6, 1795-1802, Frederick County, Virginia. BRITTON, Joseph. Sale Account. 29 Oct 1795/ 6 Dec 1796. Admr: Jesse Britton. Among buyers: Abigail Britton, Joseph Britton, Jesse Britton. (p. 233-236) (Account of goods and chattels of Joseph Brittain. 12/6/1796.) NOTE: although Jesse is thought to be a son of Joseph Britton, he curiously is not thought to be the oldest son -- Jesse was born in 1759 and his parents were apparently married by 1748; son Cornelius is thought to be older (see Britton tree). Abigail is likely to be Jesse's 12 year old daughter, but it is unknown if Joseph is Jesse's son 10-year-old Joseph, or a brother to Jesse. It is curious here too that none of the other 2+ sons of Joseph were mentioned in the Sale. It is also assumed that Joseph's wife Mary had predeceased him, since she is not mentioned in either of these documents, but without a will, it is impossible to be certain. Since Joseph was born at least by 1727 (he was likely to have been 21+ at his marriage prior to 1748, and also had to be 21 to purchase land in 1752), he would have been 68+ at his death, which likely was sudden and unexpected for there to be no will with an estate of this size (£484 = $11,500 in 2008 -- a large estate for a farmer).

Oct 17, 1798. Jesse Britton was Surety for marriage of Curtis Langley and Susannah Ridgeway. -- Frederick County Marriages, 1771-1825, Davis, 1941.

4/1/1802 marriage of Jesse Britton and Susannah Noland in Winchester, VA -- Frederick County Marriages, 1771-1825, Davis, 1941. minister=John Bond**

~1803 -- Jesse and Anna Gibson Britton's son Hiram born in Virginia (verified by census data)

William Howsman and Abigail Britton married May 27, 1803. J.W. (James Walls**)-- Frederick County Marriages, 1771-1825, Davis, 1941.

Samuel Young and Mary Britton, Dec 30, 1806. Jas. W. (James Walls**) -- Frederick County Marriages, 1771-1825, Davis, 1941. (In the source books with a fuller transcription of the record, Jesse is listed as Mary's father.)


Ohio Records

(continued) Jesse Britton (1759 Reading, Berks County, PA-1842 Pickaway,OH) -- moved to Frederick County,VA circa 1777-1781 and 1790; moved to Pickaway County,OH circa 1806

10th settler: Jesse Britton was the 10th settler of Perry Township, Pickaway County, Ohio, having moved there by 1815 (see complete list of early settlers). John Bennett* was also in Pickaway by 1815 as well as John Dunlap* by 1820.

1841 will in Pickaway County, Ohio. Will of Jesse Britton, Pickaway County, Ohio -- will mentions wife, sons Harrison and Joseph, daughters Nancy, Amanda, Carrisa, Abigail Houseman, Littite McCutcheon, Elizabeth Dunlap, Luisa Thompson, Cynthia Jimmerson and Susan Bennet. made Dec. 21, 1841. Witnesses Thomas W. Bennet and Andrew V. Jester, probated Oct. 31, 1842. (see entire will).

Franklin cty, index to probate court records, wills to 1850 -- Britton./Brittain, Jesse w-1842 pc wbIII p74 -- (w) will filed in (pc) Pickaway County/will -- willbook III, p.74.

1842 tombstone at the Britton-Chapin cemetery in Pickaway County, OH.

History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, OH. 1880 Pickaway-Perry. Jesse Britton, whose place of nativity was Reading, Pennsylvania [may have been confused with Bucks], came to Ohio from Richmond, Virginia [actually Winchester, VA] in 1807, locating in Perry township. His first wife was Anna Gibson by whom five children were born: Joseph, Letitia, Jesse, Abigail and Elizabeth (Mrs. Dunlap). Mr. Britton's second wife was Susan Nolin [sic]. The following named children were born of this marriage: Louisa, Nancy, Hiram, Margaret, Susan, Cynthia, Harrison, Amanda, and Clarence [sic -- should be Carrisa]. Jesse Britton died about the year 1838 [actually 1842], and his wife some two years later [actually on 10/20/1855, 13 years after Jesse]. The children are nearly all deceased. ... John Dunlap...married Elizabeth Britton, and, in 1818, located in Perry township. Here Mrs. Dunlap died, April 13, 1854, and her husband, May 21, 1857. Their children were: Abigail, who married James Brown, is now widowed, and lives principally in Perry township; Robert B. has been twice married -- his present wife was Mary McCrea; Elizabeth, who married William Mahoffiin, deceased; James, who married Mary Wilson, was killed in a well; Letitia, married Dr. James F. Wilson; Harriet, who married Noble Jubbell, deceased; Lorana, who married Alexander McCoy and lives in Ross county; Joseph, who married Anna Turner, deceased; Jesse, who married Harriet J. McComb, and John, who married Hattie Brown, now resided in Woodhull, IL. [John's father is listed as James Dunlap, of Irish birth and came to America prior to the war of the Revolution. He settled at Richmond, VA where he married Rebecca Blackburn, and where were born a numerous family. -- son John married Elizabeth Britton.] [Also has a listing for John Bennet, of Delaware, emigrated to Ohio in 1812, settled in Perry township; died in 1860; children Nancy, Marry Timmons, Samuel (decd), Caleb (in Madison County) Jane Rosaboam, John W. in Perry, and William.] Note: given all the inaccuracies in this biography -- Richmond instead of Winchester, Carissa listed as Clarence, Jesse's death date off by 4 years, Suzannah's death date off by 15 years -- it is not a surprise that Berks County as a birthplace for Jesse might also be incorrect. It is noteworthy that Jesse is stated to have been born in Pennsylvania, and the Joseph assumed to be his father is known by tax records to be in Pennsylvania at that time.



Miscellaneous court records from 1680 and 1681 in Staten Island

Richmond County Records:

Nath Brittain - plt
Nathan Whitmann - Deft
Wm Brittain
In the complt: brought into the cort by Nath Brittain agst. Nathan Whitman and Wm Brittain for pulling up their part of the comon Fence of the Town of Dover upon Staten Island, and removing the same for their particular use wch (as is alleged) did prove much to the Dammage of the complaint, and is contrary to the Laws of this Govermt and custom of the country concerning Fences The cort doe order that the common fence shall be again made good by the psons who removed the same, and remain as heretofore untill by the consent of the Tow2n it shall be otherwayes ordered between them. As to the Dammage the complainant may have his remedy at Law against them, if not otherwise issued between them, the deft, to pay coests.

At a Court held on staton Island By the Constabl and other sears of the seam on this present Monday Being the 5 day of september 1680
Sarah whittman Plf --- in A Action of the Case
William Britten Deft --- to the valeu of 4L 10s 6d
The Caus depending Betwxt the Plf and Deft hath Bin heard and for want of further proof the Caus is Refered till the next Court

At A Court held on staton island on this presont Munday being the 3 day of oxtober 1680 By the Constabll and ouersears of the seam
Thomas salton Plf --- in A Action of dameg
William Briten Deft --- to the ualeu of 4L 19s 6d
whar as the Cas depending betrweict the Plf and deft hath bin hard the Court findet the Deft fence unsofition ther for the Court Aloweth noe dameg and [ye] Plf to pai the Cost of seut

Sarah Whittmann Plf
william Briten Deft
At A Court hled on staton Island By the Constabll and ouer sears of the seam on this present Munday Being the 3 day of october 1680
the Court ordreth that the Def. shall seat up and geet forty panell of sodfitiont fenc for the yous of Sarah whitman at or Be foor the furst orf nouember next in sewing with Cost of sewt

Nathanell Britten Plf --- in A Acio of trespas
Aran John Sonn Deft --- to the valleu of 4L 10s
At A Court held on Staton Island By the Constabll and ouer sears of the seam on thes presont with Cost of seut
the testemony of John Tingell aged 42 years or thear ABoutes testfieth that he heard Aran Jonson say that he did not seat his doges upon the hogges But his wif toke them of the hoges and furder saieth not
the testemony of hance Christephers Aged 33 years or ther ABoutes testfieth that he heard Aran Jonsons wif say that she toke the doges of the hoges and furder saith not examoned and sworn Befoor the Court

At A Court hed on Stayton Islqand By the Constabll and ouer sears of the seam on this presont Munday Being 2 day of Jenewery 1681
Nathanll Britten Plf --- in A Action of
Edward Marshall deft --- of the Caues
The Plf Most humbly detlareth the wrshepfull Court that I haed a Mear went at the Plantation of the deft and the def Cam to me and Complained that the my Mear troubled his foels when I heard thearof I sent A halter and proferd pay to Bring hear up But the next neus I heard she was shoot which Caueseth me to suspect the deft which Caueseth me to Bring my sewt tot he Court Craueing Judment Aganst the def for the sum of four pounds ten shilings with Cost of seut the Caues Refered till next Court.

Jenewery the 2 - 1681
Nathanll Britten Plf
John Marshall Deft
wharas the Caues depnding Betwixt the Plf and deft the deft ecknowlegeth him self giltey the Court Apwinteth obadiah Hulmes and Daniall Stillwell to determen the Caues the Court ALoweth of ther Agreement and determenation as foleth that the deft shall pay to the Plf the sum of 3 pounds in Coront pay or Another Mear as good as may Be AJuged Betwixt two Indefront Men with Cost of sute Sanell Stillwell stands Bound for the Deft for debt and Cost
on the 5 day of febrery 1681
by order, obadiah Hulmes

Nathaniell Brittaine -- witness to a record of Obadiah Holmes. Obadiah Sr giving tract of land to Obadiah Jr

A list of the warants By the Justes to the Towna Court
By A Action of nathan Britte 4 warons for John pudin and his Mate Poules Marlet and Abraham Bearing deat on the 2 say of febrery 1681

At A Court hled on staton Island By the Constabll and ouer sears of of the seam on this presont Mundlay Being the 3 day of Aprell 1681
Nathanll Briten Plf --- in A Action
obadiah Hulmes Deft --- of the Caues

At A Court hled at Staton Island By the Constabll and ouer sears of the seam on this present Munday Being the 6 day of July 1681
Nathanell Britten Plf --- in A Action of Lewes Lakerman Deft --- the Caus
the Caues Refered till the next Court and then the deft to Bring the Coult now in difrence the Plf and deft By Arbetration Agreed ye deft to pay Cost of set and the Plf to Sep the Coult now in difronce.

nathanll Britten plf --- in A Action of the
edward Marshall def --- Caues
the Caues depending Betwix the Plf an deft is Refered to Thomas the Caues Reeferd till the next Court and then John Marshall and John pudin and peter mone shall Ansor this Action at the next Court John Marshall puten in secuerety

To the Court of A sessions
Peter Balew and Tis Barns Plf A sepene for Thomas walton deated the 13 day of desember 1681 nathanll Briten a supeny


. ...However, with no further records confirmed for this branch (Joseph Britton b.1669) , it is uncertain, and there is a record for a James Britton who with his wife Mary owns land in Frederick,VA in the 1740s and 1750s, and in the 1750s "left to Carolina." It is noteworthy that a Joseph Britton purchased land in Frederick, VA in 1752. This latter Joseph would not have been James' father (he would have been an unlikely 83 in 1752), but a brother or a nephew. -- Also, I forward a hypothesis that Samuel may also have been another son of Joseph. One family story (source: ) is that the Samuel in Frederick,VA in the 1750s and 1760s came to Virginia with two brothers, William and James. No Virginia records have been found for William, but it does appear likely that the above James is the one so named. The Samuel, son-of-Nathaniel, had no brother James, and it does not appear that his brother William (who married Mary Collins) moved to Virginia. Alternatively, "brothers" could have been a loose moniker for "brothers and cousins."