Saturday, May 16, 2020

52 Ancestors #20 Henry Comly of England Emigrates to Penn's Wood

Henry Comly II & Agnes Heaton (8th gr grandparents)
Henry Comly, his wife and his family (including son, Henry Jr) emigrated in 1682. The Comlys are connected to my maternal grandmother's side several times. 
The Comlys married at least two families (possibly more) she is descended from. Comlys came to the  Phildadelphia (Moreland) area and were English Quakers. For generations, they married their kind--English (as opposed to German) Quakers.
(The lineage appears at the end of this piece)

Parents: Henry Comly Sr (1615-1684) & Joan (1630-1689)
Henry Comly (II) was born in Bedminster, England. He emigrated with his parents, (Henry Sr & Joan Tyler) 1682 when he was a young boy.
Henry (Sr) bought about 500 acres of land from William Penn (1681) where the family settled (Warminster, Bucks, PA).
Only two years after arriving Henry (Sr)died and left to his son Henry                                            “two hundred acres bought by me of the Governour besides the House and Hundred which I now live in."
His mother remarried Joseph English in 1685.
Henry (Jr) Marries
In 1695 Henry married Agnes Heaton, daughter of Robert Heaton at Langhorne,  PA.
When Henry married Agnes, she brought to the marriage property which included the Manor of Moreland—two large tracts of land; together they had this as well as his Warminster property.
Agnes & Henry raised their family on the Moreland property.
Henry was active in religious life of the Friends (Quaker) Meeting and in civil affairs. In 1711 he was the collector of county taxes. In 1721 his name is found on a list of subscribers for maintaining the poor who belonged to Byberry Preparative Meeting.
Henry's name on Byberry Prep Mtg-Money needed to maintain mtg house
One descendant, a great grandson said all "of his children were married according to the order of Friends.” (Quakers).
Henry & Agnes had 11 children whose names were recorded in the Comly family bible. They were members of Abington Meeting and that Meeting has records  for at least nine of their children.

“Henry Comly appears to have and supported through his life the character of an honest and upright man. He carried his temporal concerns with vigor and was successful in his business, so that he might be regarded as wealthy for a farmer at that early period. We find that he was employed in adjusting differences about property against his neighbors and was considered a serviceable member of the religious society.” - From Comly Genealogy: John Comly, his great-grandson
Henry died at 57 year on 16 Mar 1726. (see Abington Monthly Meeting)
His widow Agnes died in 1743.

Comly, George Norwood, b. 1874. Comly Family In America: Descendants of Henry And Joan Comly, Who Came to America In 1682 From Bedminster, Somersetshire, England. With Short Account of the Ancestors of Charles And Debby Ann (Newbold) Comly. Compiled by George Norwood Comly... Philadelphia, Pa.: Priv published under supervision of J.B. Lippincott company, 1939.
PUBLIC DOMAIN; accessed 15 May 2020 at

Monday, May 11, 2020

52 Ancestors 2020 #18 Where There’s a Will

*Phoebe Stevens (my husband's 3rd gr grandmother)
Daughter of John Stevens (1779-1840) and Azubah Procter (1776-1840)
B 3 May 1812 Stoddard, New Hampshire
D 3 Apr 1902 Keene, Cheshire, New Hampshire
Her siblings
~~John Stevens (1807–1865)
~~Henry Stevens (1808–?)
~~Azubah Stevens (1808–1852)
~~Ephraim Stevens (1814–1895)
Married *David Towne Petts (his 3rd gr grandfather)
B 25 Nov 1810, Weston, Windsor, VT
D 3 Dec 1856 in Marlow, Cheshire, New Hampshire
Their children:
~Ferdinand Petts (1834–1933)
~Rosina Petts (1835–1861)
~Lyman Gustavus Petts (1836–1927)
~George A Petts (1842–?)
~Myranda Anette Petts (1843–1917)
~*Christiane L Petts (1845–1871) (his 2nd gr grandmother)

Phoebe outlived her husband by 46 years, falling short of living to 90 years old by one month.
A wife in this period was not the automatic heir to her husband's property. The husband owned everything, including his debt.
David T. Petts died intestate (without a will). Consequently, there are a lot of records (from 1856 for at least 2 years) in New Hampshire.
But as the widow Phoebe was entitled to a “dower”-the state gave widows that much. Typically, it was 1/3 of the entire value of the estate (it was handled by the probate judge). Phoebe got slightly-very slightly-more the 1/3.
Phoebe also asked to be  the administratrix—something she had to petition the court to be. Amos Fiske was ‘commissioned’ by the court to appraise and list all belongings of David T Petts.
To settle the estate, Phoebe (as administratrix—or as widow, depending on the document) had to fill out a court document and have it approved.
She got ‘reimbursed’ for travel, but it was out of the estate.
David Petts died in 1856—the estate got bogged down by people wanting their money--and then it seems that the court suspected the family was hiding property. It finally was settled in 1858.

Phoebe auctioned the estate (apart from the ‘dower’ which was hers) and then paid back her husband’s creditors
There are two sets of inventories. One looks like the final ‘official’ inventory (has a seal on it), the other is in long hand. The inventory in long hand lists the value of each item and next to each is also has a list of names. Perhaps the longhand sheet was the worksheet for the public auction.  Several of the bidders were related to her (sons).
No other records indicate that they ran a tavern/inn.
But when you see the inventory you realize they must have. The quantity of food and alcohol, along with bedding for that time period indicates an inn. The unofficial inventory is 9 pages long. The inventory is very large for the time. (If you read on, you’ll see verification.)
I don’t know anything about antebellum New Hampshire estates, but I am guessing Amos Fiske who was commissioned by the court, may have made a profit on reselling the articles he bought at auction.
Inventory                          - $642.98
 S. for Wid. Allow. [The widow’s dower, or 1/3 of David’s property)     $200
Sold for                                          $360.08
                                  $82.98 L of S

If David Towne Petts owed his creditors more than $443.06, then the creditors could not be repaid in full. When you adjust this for inflation, $443=$14,560.
I looked at his creditors (from those who came forward after notices were posted and published), you find he owed more than $2,240. This, adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to $74,000--when he had the equivalent of $14,560.
His creditors had to accept what the court allowed.  If they were owed $5.24, they were allowed about .59 cents. Most of his creditors were “promissory notes” or IOUs.  But there were about 6 or 7  judgements on David Petts, and some of them very large. This tells me that he had borrowed money on time and had not fulfilled his obligation of repayment in a timely manner---and the creditor had to file a judgement in court against him.

David Towne Petts died intestate. His estate was INSOLVENT.

·         16 Dec 1856
(His widow) Phoebe Petts petitioned court to be the administratrix of her husband's estate.
·         16 Dec 1856
A bond for: Phebe Petts, Amos Pike, and Samuel Buss amount of $1200 to execute estate accdng to the laws of New Hamsphire.
·         6 Jan 1857
Phebe Petts, of estate of David T Petts of Marlow deceased intestate, says she is unwilling to be charged with the goods and chattles belonging to the said estate as appraised. Wherefore she prays that she may have license to sell the same at public auction. "foregoing petition is decreed granted and the license is issued accordingly"
·         6 Jan 1857
The estate of David Petts was published for 3 consecutive weeks in the Cheshire Republican (newspaper) printed in Keene, Cheshire County (NH) with additional notifications at some publick house in each of the towns of Marlow and Stoddard (for at least 40 days). - Judge of Probate 6 Jan 1857
·         Jan 1857
Phebe Petts, widow and relict of David T Petts of Marlow. "Prays your honor to make her such an allowance out of the Personal Estate of said deceased, for her present support and comfort, as may be suitable to her condition and degree, and consistent with the situation of the Estate." "Phebe Petts" (response): “January 1857  Upon the above petition, it is...decreed that the said widow be allowed in such article as she may choose, out of the Inventory of the Personal Estate of said deceased, suitable to her condition, at their appraised value, the sum of two hundred dollars, for her present support and comfort. (Judge)
 ·         Jan 1857
Several Pages of the Official Inventory & appraisal Jan 6 1857 done by 3 men
 ·         Jan 1857
New Hampshire, Cheshire County, the Judge of Probate for County; To Phebe Petts, Administratrix of the Estate of David T Petts late of Marlow in said county, deceased intestate: You are hereby licensed and ordered to sell at public auction, all the goods and chattels of said deceased, except such part thereof as has been ordered to you for your present support (see petition).
And you are directed to give notice of such sale by posting up advertisements thereof in two or more public places in said Marlow at least 10 days before said sale. If you comply with this order, and act with fidelity and impartiality in said sale, you will be credited with loss, or charged with the gain upon such sale. 6 January 1857 - Judge of Probate
·         Jan 1857
Amount of Sales at Auction of the Estate of David T Petts Late of Marlow; Deceased; by Phebe Petts Adminstratrix - Jan 29 1857
Auction - inventory

Inventory (partial)


Appraisal less widow's dower

·         Sept 1857
Creditors & Heirs at Law of the Estate of David T Petts of Marlow in Cheshire County. ... 1st Tuesday of September [1857]...and ordered that Phebe Petts give notice causing the Citation to be published 3 weeks successively in the Cheshire Republican printed at Keene in said county.

·         Sept 1857
Amos Fiske of Marlow, the commissioner of the Estate of David Petts of Marlow was given a year from 1 Dec 1857, a list of all the claimes which have been received against David Petts' estate. (Signed by the judge on 1 Sept 1857) - fig 1
1856 Expense of Administration
First, Cash paid Out
Kimball for Advertising .75
L. Tenny for services at auction $4
Samul Bress for services as appraiser and clerk $4
Elisha Bress for services as appraiser $2
Amos Pike for services as appraiser $2
AS Fiske Commissioner for services as a commissioner $8
Kimball for Advertising                       $4.75

1857 Paper 2 - Funeral Charges of the deceased
Dec  5 Paid Daniel Mack for coffin & box / recipt No 1 $8.00
Dec 5 Paid John Mellen for digging grave & box recipt No 2 $4.00
Phebe Petts, Administratrix

Second Personal Services of Administratrix
1856 [Date] For attending Probate Court expenses, to take letter      $3.50
     [Date] Expenses with appraisers                                        $2.00
1857 [Date] Attending probate court, expenses, to take license $3.50
     [Date]  Service at the sale                          $2.00
     [Date]Attending Probate Court and expenses                   $3.50
     [Date]Attending Probate Court and expenses                   $3.50
1858 [Date] Attending probate Court and expenses $3.50
     [Date] Attending probate Court and expenses      $3.50
     [Date]  Making administrative account                    .75
      --    Attending Probate Court and expenses          $3.50
1858 ?? attending count from New Ipswich to settlement  $3.50
                                                                                    Phebe Petts
Account Papers
Paper A
In trust on personal property
In trust on cash taken at sale
Collected of Amos Pike on note for property $3.64
                                    bought at sale
Collected of Ferdinand Petts on note for property bought at sale $21.52
Collected of Samuel Buss on note for property bought at sale $1.55
Collected of Elisha Buss on note for property bought at sale $1.16
*    1 March 1858-Estate was discharged...and report made by the Commissioner is accepted. - Judge
 June 15 1858

Their eldest son (who was an adult), Ferdinand Petts, was summoned to appear in court to be examined regarding his father’s estate.
I cannot figure out what the larger point was but assume that the probate court was not satisfied that the discharging the amount owed by David Petts’ estate had been handled legally. 
A horse was quite valuable at that time and the court questioned Ferdinand Petts regarding his possessions in 1856. He was also asked about this stallion.  (Interestingly he brings up the name Amos Fiske, who is the same man who was commissioned by court to do the appraisal on the estate).
Ferdinand’s testimony includes this:
“In May 1856 my father was in need of a horse to use in connection with the tavern & informed me of it & wanted I should help him to one. ?? at the same time the said stallion was a pace horse & one he should like and I told him if he could buy it. So as I --- would? be sure to not lose by it he might buy him for me. He made the trade, took & kept him until Dec 1856. Q Did you experience the horse during the negotiation for the purchase, or have anything to say as to the price or qualities of the horse?”[etc].  
The testimony goes on on property and notes.
Ferdinand is questioned about a "tavern stand" which apparently he bought. The court wishes to know where he got the money from. At this point there is some involvement-or suspected involvement-of Fiske (Amos Fiske who was also the Commissioner for the estate). 

At one point in time, the deceased, David Petts, needed money and so borrowed it from his son. And so on.
There many questions, all about money and property which go on for pages, and some of which are hard to understand due to the handwriting of the note-taker. 
There are 35 questions, but many of them are compound questions, requiring more than one answer.
Ferdinand was finally done with his testimony on July 20, 1858.
page 1 of Ferdinand's court testimony

·      *   21 September 1858
Whereas the Commissioner presented all claims allowed the sum is $2539 dollars and 39 cents; and whereas the settlement of your account, except the widow's dower, having been sold and the proceeds accounted for. There appears to be a balance of $312.96.
The creditors were notified accordingly, and you are directed to distribute the balance of 312.96 to aforesaid creditors by paying to each of them the proportion to each of their claim respectively annexed. --Judge

Friday, May 8, 2020

52 Ancestors 2020 #19 Legal Contracts: How They Serve Us

Law Contracts: Do they serve us or do we serve them?
A written contract in the form of a deed, a bond, a will, or some other instrument can give one a sense of security. "Posted: No Trespassing" can be nailed on a tree on your property when you have the deed to the land. Or, as a in will, you may inherit property.  But what if  you are an indentured servant? how would you feel about the contract?  Wonder if my ancestor Wigard Levering find out that being indentured contract was too much of a burden? or too long? 

I Rosier Levering and Elizabeth Van de Walle - of Leiden and Germany (Gen 1) 
~ Rosier Levering was born about 1615 in Leiden (Leyden), Netherlands. He died Mar 1674/75 in Gemen, Munster, Germany.
Leiden, Netherlands (wikipedia/opensource)
~ He married Elizabeth Van De Wall[e], the daughter of Jacobus Van De Walle and Agatha Hess in 1646/47 in Gemen, Munster, Germany.
~ Elizabeth Van De Wal[e]l was born 21 May 1626 in Wesel, Germany. She died in Gemen, Munster, Germany.
Move to Pennsylvania
Elizabeth Van de Walle's brother, Jacob Van der Walle, was a wealthy Dutch Pietist and a prominent shareholder in the Frankfort Company which owned and organized Germantown, PA.
After William Penn acquired his Pennsylvania land in 1681, he needed settlers so he traveled throughout Europe seeking settlers, particularly Friends (Quakers) and Mennonites. Penn also found partners for the venture who had agents to help acquire more settlers.
One of these partnerships, organized about 1683, was the Frankfort Company (1683) and one partner in the Frankfort company was Jacob Van De Walle, brother-in-law of Rosier Levering (whose wife was Elizabeth Van De Walle).
Children of Rosier Levering and Elizabeth Van De Walle
Rosier Levering and Elizabeth Van De Walle had several children, including Wigard (son).
II Wigard Levering and Magdalena Boeckers (Gen 2)
Their son Wigard Levering was born in 1640s in the town of Gemen, Munster, Germany.
In April 1674, he married  Magdalena Boeckers, of Wesel, Germany.
The earliest record of Wigard Levering and his wife, Magdalena Boeckers, appears in the records of the Presbytery of the Evangelical Parish of Gemen, Munster Stadt, Westphalia, Germany.
On March 22, 1674, the first wedding banns for "Wigard Levering, Rosier's son, with Magdalena Bokers, of Essen," were proclaimed.
Mulheim Germany
They lived in Gemen first, then moved to Mulheim (where son William Levering was born).
No doubt Wigard's uncle, Jacob Van De Walle, was an agent for getting Wigard Levering  into a contract with the Frankfort Company at Wesel to ship the family to Philadelphia (dated 20th of March, 1685).
Their agreement with the Frankfort Company is at the Pennsylvania Historical Society:
"We, the subscribers, do acknowledge and confess by these Presents, that we have contracted and agreed together, that Doctor Thomas Van Wylick and Johannes Le Brun, in behalf of the Pennsylvania Company, in which they, and other friends of Frankfort and other parts, are engaged, to accept or receive me, Wigard Levering, old 36 or 37 years, and Magdalena Boeckers, old 36 years, and four children, Anna Catherine, William, Amelia, and Sibella, respectively 1/2, 2 1/2, 5 and 9 years, to and for the service of the aforementioned Company, to transport by shipping out of Holland or Ingland, to Pennsylvania, upon their cost. On Their arrival in Pennsylvania, they were to report themselves to Francis Daniel Pastorius, who was general agent for the company. Written upon the margin of the instrument an agreement to include "the Contractor's brother, Gerhard Levering."
New Chapter: Wigard & Magadelena's Emigration
They emigrated that year to America with four children, sailing to Philadelphia on “Penn's Woodland” from the Netherlands. They first settled in Germantown (outside of Philadelphia).
In August, 1685, the Frankfort Company conveyed 50 acres of land in Germantown to Wigard Levering.
A recorded deed, executed in August 1685 reads: "On the tenth of that month and year, Francis Daniel Pastorius, as the attorney of Jacob Van de Walle and others, forming the Frankford Company, conveyed to Wigard Levering a lot in Germantown containing fifty acres of land. So done in Germantown, on the 10th day of the 6th month (August), in the year of Christ 1685, in the sixteenth year of the reign of King James the Second of England, and in the fifth year of the reign of William Penn.'"
Wigard and his brother Gerhard Levering became freemen in 1691.
Once Wigard was a free man, he bought 500 of land and his brother bought adjoining land, near the  Wissahickon Creek to the Schuylkill River—most of Roxborough (slightly west). They lived there for the rest of their days.
Breaking a Contract:
When they immigrated both Wigard and Gerhard Levering were indentured to the Frankfort Company. (Indentured/Redemptioned laborers who lived in servitude for a set number of years in exchange for passage to the American colonies from England or Germany. They were considered chattel that could be bought and sold until the period of their servitude expired.) And although Wigard was indebted to the efforts of others for his relative prosperity and the benefit of no longer living in the church-state of Germany, he chose to get out from his obligation to the agents by suing to break the contract a full fourteen years after his immigration. Perhaps he believed that he had fulfilled his obligation? I can't know. A document reveals how Pastorious felt:
“… He…sued the said Comp; as debtors to him & to deprive me, the now Agent of the said Company of all advice & assistance in Law, employed all the Attorneys in the Country, who pleading that he the said Wigard, his wife & 4 children are not to discount anything for their Transportation, obtained Judgment in the last County Court against the said Company, for 32L 16s 10d. Now supposing the said German Company had Intended to transport the said Wigard his wife & children gratis or free, as I have proofs to the contrary… Therefore your Petitioner in the behalf of the said German Comp. humbly entreats you to grant to have the cause tried again (a thing he thinks not so unheard of as that a Plaintiff should employ all the Lawyers to impede & hinder the Defendants to get any) And to the end that a Just Cause may not suffer by my unskillfullness in pleading & notorious want or defect to express myself sufficiently in the English tongue to the full understanding of a Jury; May it please the Govr & his Council to appoint a Person learned in the Law to patronize or manage the same. And as your Petitioner requests these things only for Justice & Truths sake, so (he hopes) it will tend to the preventing both of others, who being transported by the said Company's disbursement may probably follow the steps of Wigard; as also to the allaying of dissatisfaction of several honest hearted people in Germany and especially oblidge your Petitioner.
- F.D. Pastorious "
Wigard Levering spoke German and was unable to write. His wife Magdalena died when she was about 67, in 1717 at the age of about 67 years.
Wigard (some people called him John) died in February 1745/46. His age was estimated between 103-107 when he died and was buried upon his farm.
The location is now part of Fairmount Park of Philadelphia. Later it became the churchyard and burial ground of the Baptist Church. It is now Leverington Cemetery.
It is now Leverington Cemetery.

[In 1689, William Penn had a census taken and found about a thousand Swedes; nevertheless, the Germans outnumbered them greatly in a short span of time. The Welsh were prominent across the Schuylkill in Merion Township.]