Table of Pages in
My Quaker Ancestors
Whichever page you are on is in bold in a top table cell in this mini-website.
Compilation of Maps, Sources, and Monthly Meeting Information page.
Introduction &
Ralph Allen and Henry Howland
The Field family - Long Island to Indiana The Willets & Powells of Long Island Quakers to Pennsylvania:
Comly, Gilbert, Strickland, Routledge

My Pennsylvania Quaker Ancestors

The focus of this sub-website is Rachel Field (1780-1851) and her husband Levi Willets (1777-1828), the last of some long lines of Quaker ancestors in America in my ancestry. This page focuses on Rachel’s maternal line of Phebe Comly, Rachel's mother.


As with the other pages, little attempt is made to trace English heritage.
All the above were Quakers, and my ancestors. In the text they are generally in bold.

Rachel Field’s mother was Phebe Comly, her father Henry Comly, the fourth in a line of men named Henry Comly. All of Phebe’s ancestors in America came to America as Quakers, or were born here Quakers. Phebe, born in 1758 in Abington township just north of Philadelphia, was heir to those who came to Pennsylvania following the lead of William Penn who had been handed a large tract of land in 1681 by King Charles II in payment of a debt to Penn’s father.

Taking Sides - Phebe's Father's side

Phebe Comly's father side.

Phebe5, Henry4, Henry3, Henry2, Henry Comly I (Emigrant)

Phebe Comly was the daughter of four generations of men named Henry Comly. Her great-great-grandfather Henry Comly (1615-1684) was born in Somerset County in England and after the death of his first wife, married Joan Tyler, Henry junior’s mother. Leaving the now grown children from his first wife, Henry sailed in 1683 for America with his new wife and their young son. They were part of William Penn’s famous “fleet of 23” that sailed from England in the 1680s. The Comly family sailed in November of 1683 on the ship The Samuel and Mary. The year before, in October of 1682, on the ship Lamb was four-year-old Agnes Heaton with her parents and four siblings. (Footnote: For passengers and ships of “Penn’s Fleet” see https://www.chester.pa-roots.com/misc/individual_ships_of_penn.htm ) When 21, Henry would marry the 17-year-old Agnes in at the Middletown Quaker Meeting in the borough of Langhorne, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. (Footnote: Comly, George Norwood, Comly family in America, descendants of Henry and Joan Comly, who came to America in 1682 from Bedminster, Somersetshire, England. (Philadelphia, 1939), page 18. Online at HathiTrust.org: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/005730402 ) But between that marriage and Phebe Comly, the mother of Rachel Field, would come several generations of Quakers, the Stricklands and Routledges on her mother’s side; the Gilberts and Comlys on her father’s side.

Henry Comly II (1674-1724) Phebe's great-grandfather

Henry junior’s parents did not survive long in the new world. Father Henry died within a year and his mother Joan, who had remarried Joseph English, died but seven years later in 1689, leaving 15-year-old Henry an orphan, the legal heir to his father’s estate. (Footnote: Comly, page 12ff for Henry senior’s will, inventory, and disposition of property. ) In 1690 William Paxson and Jonathan Scaife, both of whom would be among the witnesses to his marriage in 1695, were made his Guardians and evidently the only property left him was that in Warminster township in Bucks County. Henry became rather prominent in the area thanks in part to his father-in-law and his brother-in-law, Robert Heaton senior and junior. He obtained two tracts of land totally 900 acres on which he built, in 1704, “Green Briar Spring” in the Manor of Moreland where he and his bride, Agnes Heaton, raised eleven children between 1696 and 1722. Click here for a map showing the approximate location and size of the Manor of Moreland. While it was eventually sold in 1866, the Manor house stood for many years, evidently at least into the 1920s when it was pictured in George Comly’s 1939 book on the family. (Footnote: According to the 1867 History of the Townships of Byberry and Moreland, Green Briar Spring, became the residence of Henry Comly (III) and “in whose family it has since continued.” ) George Comly’s book, in the Appendix, gives some colorful descriptions of life in Moreland through writings of Henry’s nephews.

Agnes Heaton (1677-1743) - Phebe's great-grandmother
& her father Robert Heaton (1637-1717)

As mentioned, Agnes was four years old when she came to America on one of “Penn’s Fleet of 23,” the ship Lamb with her parents and siblings in 1682. The family came from Yorkshire, her father Robert Heaton producing a Certificate from the Settle, Yorkshire, Monthly Meeting to the Middletown Monthly Meeting in Pennsylvania. (Footnote: An image of that Certificate is at Robert’s Find-a-Grave memorial as is there a image of “Robert Heaton Children.” https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/126658912/robert-heaton ) Robert Heaton must have had some money. Deeds recorded that titled the 900-acre homestead of Henry Comly and Agnes Heaton are abstracted in the Comly book. Robert Heaton junior was deeded, in 1695, 300 acres which he, two years later, deeded to his sister’s husband, Henry Comly. Robert Heaton senior bought from the estate of Nicholas More 600 acres which he deeded to his son-in-law Henry Comly, making up the 900 acres of the Manor of Moreland on land which had originally been patented by William Penn to More. (Footnote: Comly, Appendix, page 1029, “Brief of Title to the Henry Comly Homestead, formerly ‘The Manor of Moreland, Green Briar Spring,’ Moreland Twp., Philadelphia Co., Pa.” Abstract follows the ownership by will or purchase to 1926, to page 1032. ) Agnes was described, in the History of Byberry and Moreland, as “a woman of small stature, possessed of a good stock of common sense, and quite active even in advanced life, so that she could perform the duties of her household or ride on horseback with nearly as much ease as in her youthful days.”

Quakers and Slavery

Henry and Agnes were slave holders. In the inventory of Henry’s property at his will's probate was a Negro girl, £20; a Negro boy, £30. In Agnes’s inventory is found one Negro, Phillis, £28; a Negro boy, Wallis, £14. (Footnote: Martindale, page 255. Both wills are transcribed in the Comly book, but not the inventories. ) Quakers, who were both slave holders and traded in slaves, perhaps paradoxically played a major role in the abolition movement. Robert Field (1723-1775), Benjamin Field junior's nephew, was a slave holder, (Footnote: 'TEN POUNDS Reward' Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia, Aug 27, 1767, page 1. ) and it is likely others in my family were slave holders if not traders. The tide to abolition began in Pennsylvania with the rantings of Benjamin Lay at the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in Burlington, New Jersey. Lay was disowned for his anti-slavery protestations (four times it seems) but had his impact. As Lay’s biographer points out, “Benjamin was, in 1738, the last Quaker disowned for protests against slavery. It would take another twenty years for Quakers to agree even to the possibly of disowning a member for slave-trading and an additional eighteen years to begin to excommunicate slave owners.” (Footnote: Rediker, Marcus, The Fearless Benjamin Lay, (Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 2017), page 8. Rediker also has an interesting article on Benjamin Lay in the Smithsonian Magazine that is accessible at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/quaker-comet-greatest-abolitionist-never-heard-180964401/ (Accessed 6-20-2021) ) While estate inventories could reveal the extent of slave holding among my ancestors, not all are available. Considerable research would be needed to discover, if even possible, how abolitionism played out in my family. (See the end of the Sources page for resources on Quakers and slavery.)

Henry Comly III (1702-1772) - Phebe's grandfather

The third Henry in the line is my 6th great-grandfather who as a small tyke watched the building of Green Briar Spring which was begun in 1704. He was one of eleven children born to Henry and Agnes. After marrying Phebe Gilbert in 1728 he lived out his life at Green Briar Spring, having a family of eight children. The lineages of their children are in George Comly’s 1939 book. Interestingly, one of their sons, Joseph Comly (1740-1778, or 1788, depending on the source), joined the British on Long Island and had is estate confiscated.

Bucks County on a current Google Map.
Two views of Green Briar Spring from the Comly book:

Phebe Gilbert (1701-1773) - Phebe's grandmother

The History of Byberry and Moreland townships states, citing a family record, that Phebe’s grandfather was John Gilbert who came over with William Penn on his famous ship Welcome, but there is no Gilbert on the reconstructed list of Penn’s Fleet, or the list of passengers on the Welcome. (Footnote: Martindale, Joseph C. A History of the Townships of Byberry and Moreland in Philadelphia, Pa.: From Their Earliest Settlement by the Whites to the Present Time ( Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1867), page 25. online at https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011607171 (see Sources)
“The Welcome Society of Pennsylvania” - https://www.welcomesociety.org/ancestors.html; “Individual Ships of Penn's Fleet and their passengers” - https://www.chester.pa-roots.com/misc/individual_ships_of_penn.htm )
Phebe’s father, Joseph Gilbert, was a leading member of the Byberry Monthly Meeting and an interesting biography of him is in the Martindale book. It states that he was opposed to slavery, setting several in his possession free; he was also opposed to usury and as a wealthy man often lent money without interest. Still hale and hearty at his death at 90, he abstained from intoxicating drink although provided such to his hands in the harvest-field.

Father Joseph Gilbert (1675 in Cambridgeshire, England – 1765) had married the widow of Jonathan Livesey, Rachel née Taylor (1664-1749) about whom little is known other than she was loved by her husband and who bore him five children, including Phebe. In the year following her death Joseph planted a cedar tree which he then continued to water. (Footnote: Martindale, footnote on page 148. Evidently the tree was still standing 117 years later when Martindale wrote his book. )

Phebe’s brother Benjamin became somewhat of a legend when he and his family were captured by Indians in 1780 during the Revolution. His story is the subject of an 88 page “Narrative of the Captivity and Sufferings of Benjamin Gilbert and Family” and a Wikipedia page. (Footnote: Text of the “Narrative” at http://static.torontopubliclibrary.ca/da/pdfs/37131055390157d.pdf
Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Captivity_of_Benjamin_Gilbert )

Henry Comly IV (1735-1768) - Phebe's father

Henry’s life was short lived. But before dying at 33, he had married Rachel Strickland and with her had six children, the second daughter being the focus of this page, Phebe, who married Robert Field whose history is the subject of another page. Henry's widow, Rachel, remarried, in 1769, Henry’s first cousin Jacob Comly who had been disowned by the Quakers five years before their marriage but lived out his life as a tavern keeper in what is now Somerton, PA. (Footnote: Comly, page 54. Comly quotes the record from the Monthly Meeting (Gunpowder MM) in which Jacob evidently took up guns with several others to apprehend fleeing slaves. )


Taking Sides - Phebe's Mother's side

Rachel Strickland (1732-1797) – Phebe Comly's mother.

Phebe Comly4, Rachel3, John Strickland2, Miles Strickland (Emigrant)

Phebe’s mother was Rachel Strickland, the daughter of John Strickland and his wife Margarett “Mary” née Routledge, (Footnote: While Routledge is an historic name in the 15th through 18th century, it has largely been replaced with “Rutledge”. In the censuses of the U.S. there generally only a few hundred with the spelling “Routledge” while many more “Rutledge.” The Quaker records of the 18th century in the U.S. do have the spelling “Routledge.” ) Rachel's grandparents being Miles Strickland (1674-1751) and his wife Frances Wharton. Miles Strickland had come to America in 1718 from Ireland, (Footnote: U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935, "Philadelphia MM > Minutes, 1715-1744 Index," Image 34 of page 45 - "Miles Strickland produced a Certificate from the mens meeting in Dublin, which was read and proved to be correct."; digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2189/ : accessed 11 Jun 2021). ) although historically his ancestors were likely from England, Lancashire in particular. The next month his certificate was accepted in Abington, and six years later Miles "removed" to the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. (Footnote: "Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935," Image 121 in Philadelphia > Philadelphia Monthly Meeting > Minutes, 1715-1744; digital images(accessed 18 Apr 2021). "Myles Strickland brought into this meeting a Certificate from Abington monthly meeting, for himself wife & daughter Rachel, which was read & well received." ) While Frances’ death record has not been found, there is a record that Miles married Mary Naylor in 1723, (Footnote: Abington MM (Abington, Pennsylvania, U.S.), "Image 64 in Montgomery > Abington Monthly Meeting > Men´s Minutes, 1682-1746,” Marriage of Miles Strickland was accomplished reported at the meeting 25th of 1st month 1723; digital images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2189 : accessed 19 Apr 2021); Intentions recorded on the previous page in the previous meeting: "Whereas Miles Strickland & Mary Nailor having declared their intentions of marriage...." ) so it is assumed that Frances had died by then. “Mary” is named as his wife in his will. (Footnote: Full will of Myles Strickland; Ancestry.com Pennsylvania, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1683-1993 > Philadelphia > Wills, Vol I, K, 1748-1757 > Image 226. ) Miles’ son John was named the executor of his 1751 will in which he names his wife Mary, son John, son Amos, daughter Rachel Hilbourne as well as the children and grandchildren of his deceased son Joseph; also mentioned are the children of his son-in-law John Naylor. (Footnote: Also named in the will are the “Children of my Son in Law John Naylor…” who are bequeathed one shilling each. I suspect that John was the son of Mary Naylor who was a widow when she married Miles Strickland in 1723. And “son in law” should mean to be "step-son." )

John Strickland (1701-1766) - Phebe Comly's grandfather

Miles’ son, John Strickland, was born also Ireland in 1701 when his father was about 25 and it is assumed that he travelled to America with his father’s family; no record of his Quaker admittance to the Meeting then has been found. However, there is a removal in 1752 to the Abington Monthly Meeting which names his wife and children, one being daughter Rachel. (Footnote: "Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935,” Image 51 in PA > Philadelphia > Philadelphia MM > Minutes, 1751-1756 Index; digital images (accessed 15 Apr 2021); "The objections to John Strickland having a certificate being now removed [& one] being prepared for him, Mary his wife and their Children Mary, Margaret, Rachel & Amos [united] to Abington Monthly Meeting, the Clerk is directed to sign it on behalf of the meeting." ) John married, in 1726, Mary “Margaret” Routledge (some records give her name as her mother's), (Footnote: While Routledge is a historic name in the 15th through 18th century, it has largely been replaced with “Rutledge”. In the censuses of the U.S. there generally only a few hundred with the spelling “Routledge" while many more “Rutledge.” The Quaker records of the 18th century in the U.S. do have the spelling “Routledge.” ) the daughter of John Routledge and his wife Margaret Dalton (b. 1681 in Wales, d. 1735).

As an aside, John Strickland had a younger brother Amos who was born about 1730 who built in the mid-1760s what is now operated as a boutique hotel and inn with 15 rooms and a restaurant in Newtown, Pennsylvania. He was the beneficiary of the widow of the original owner of the property, John Walley, who willed that Amos “shall build or cause to be built a new stone house rather than repair the old house.” That he did before he died in 1779 and it stands to this day as the elegant looking The Brick Hotel, which takes reservations and has an “Our History” page on its website. (Footnote: The Brick Hotel: http://www.brickhotel.com/ )

John Routledge (1676-1725) - Phebe Comly's great-grandfather.

Phebe Comly4, Rachel Strickland3, Mary Routledge2, John Routledge (Emigrant)

The great-grandfather of Phebe Comly was a respected Quaker who emigrated from Cumberland in extreme northwest England via Scotland to America. A Quaker memorial to him states that it was unknown when he came to America, but does state that he left Cumberland in 1697 (Footnote: Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935. Pennsylvania > Philadelphia > Philadelphia MM > Minutes, 1666-1789 > image 90 of page 86. Also posted to his Find-a-Grave memorial: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/167896462/john-routledge ) and there is the record of his marriage in 1701 in Falls River, (Footnote: Hinshaw, William Wade, 1867-1947, (Ancestry.com. U.S., Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol I–VI, 1607-1943; https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/3753/), Vol II, Falls MM > page 1024 (image 1024) ) so it is safe to say he emigrated sometime in those four years. In 1711 he was received into the Middletown Monthly Meeting in Falls Township just north of Philadelphia. (Footnote: Hinshaw, William Wade, et al., compilers. Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy,1607-1943; Ancestry.com. U.S., Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy > Vol II > Image 968. ) The aforementioned memorial in the Quaker minutes describes him as a “lively minister of the Gospel, and travelled abroad in the service of truth.” (The last sentence of the memorial states “Thomas [Chahless(?)] gives a large account of his funeral to which the reader is referred.” And which I’ve not found.)

In 1701 he married Margaret Dalton, (Footnote: "Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 > PA > Bucks > Falls MM > Falls Births, Deaths and Marriages > Image 15 of page 27," "John Routledge of Falls Bucks Co. Pa. (yeoman) and Margaret Dalton married 5.9.1701" with list of 29 witnesses; digital images. ) an immigrant from Wales, and they had seven children born between 1702 and 1717, the second daughter being the Mary Routledge who married John Strickland. While Quaker records name three of the children, John’s 1725 will leaves half to his wife and half to his “seven children” who are not named. They are, however, named in Margaret’s 1735 will. Both FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com Family Trees have a good deal of rubbish when it comes to this family. Actually, their Find-a-Grave memorials are more accurate. Link to Margaret's below. Perhaps including the two wills will help with that:

Will of John Routledge dated 10 first month 1721.
Names only wife Margaret - executrix.
Proved July the 30th:1725
Will of Margaret Routledge dated 27 April 1735
Named in this will:
  1. Son Thomas Routledge
  2. Son John Routledge
  3. Daughter Rachel Yatse (Yeats)
  4. Daughter Mary Strickland
  5. Daughter Elizabeth Strickland
  6. Daughter Sarah Cooper
  7. Daughter Isaboll Routledge

The focus of this web page has been Phebe Comly (1758-1788) who married Robert Field (1751-1819). They had a daughter Rachel Field who is the focus of this mini-website / family history. She was perhaps the last Quaker in my family history and married Levi Willets who himself had a Quaker history. For the ancestry of the Field line see the link above or go to that page now. The same goes for the Willets ancestry: use the link at the top or go to that page now.


Sources

A number of sources were used that crossed between the pages of this family history mini-website. Those include original documents at Ancestry.com (the Quaker Meeting records in particular), and records in FamilySearch.org. Those references are in footnotes, but two sources, books, were used in this page:

  1. Martindale, Joseph C. A History of the Townships of Byberry and Moreland in Philadelphia, Pa.: From Their Earliest Settlement by the Whites to the Present Time (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1867.) Online at https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/011607171 - and https://archive.org/details/historyoftownshi00mart/page/n7/mode/2up ---- Comly Family pages 250-284 citing the genealogy provided by Watson Comly of Byberry; Gilbert Family pages 289-299. Very interesting for history of the Society of Friends in the two townships.
  2. Comly, George Norwood, Comly family in America, descendants of Henry and Joan Comly, who came to America in 1682 from Bedminster, Somersetshire, England. (Philadelphia, 1939). Online at HathiTrust.org: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/005730402; or the entire book as a PDF is at http://www.seekingmyroots.com/members/files/G001349.pdf (Accessed 6/15/2021 - 63 MB)

Find-a-Grave

Deaths before about 1850 are mostly not memorialized and many memorials contain questionable information, but they can often provide valuable leads. The following people discussed on this page have memorials created by researchers without finding headstones in most cases, and some have surprisingly good information, especially those that link to people in the Comly / Heaton lines. Links open in a new window or tab.

Comlys:
Others:

Footnotes:

Footnotes:


Page created June, 2021

© Text copyright: Steve Spicer

Feel free to email me: steve@spicerweb.org