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 To Pennsylvania:
Comly, Gilbert, Strickland, Routledge

The Willets Ancestry

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


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

Rachel6, Robert5, Benjamin junior4, Benjamin3, Robert2, Robert Field (Emigrant)


ancestors are covered on the Field family - Long Island to Indiana page.


While this page concentrates on the Willets and Powell lines, first a bit about Rachel's birth family.

Rachel Field, her family and marriage to Levi Willets:

Rachel, the fourth child of Robert Field and his wife Phebe, née Comly, was born just north of Philadelphia during what has been called the worst winter of the 18th century; George Washington’s revolutionary troops, quartered 70 miles north, saw a winter much worse than the previous one at Valley Forge. (Footnote: Several articles online detail the “hard winter” of 1779-80: see https://emergingrevolutionarywar.org/2016/01/23/the-hard-winter-of-1779-1780/ (accessed June, 2021) ) Her father, Robert, was a Quaker chair maker in Abington township just north of Philadelphia. (Footnote: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, "Pennsylvania, U.S., Tax and Exoneration, 1768-1801," p. 8, image 8 in Montgomery > Abington: "Robert Field, Chair maker"; digital images, Ancestry.com(accessed 20 May 2021); citing Tax & Exoneration Lists, 1762–1794. Series No. 4.61; Records of the Office of the Comptroller General, RG-4. Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. ) When a mere eight years old, her mother died, likely in childbirth, and several years later her father married Priscilla Roberts with whom he had four children and moved into the relative wilds of Pennsylvania, 90 miles northwest to Catawissa along the Susquehanna River. (Footnote: The family appears in the 1790 census of Abington. He appears on the 1800 and 1810 census of Catawissa but with children which don’t quite match up with “The Genealogy of Berks” in the Quaker records which is likely much more accurate. ) As a branch of the Exeter Monthly Meeting, Quakers had built a meetinghouse there in 1789 and the family attended meetings there or six miles south at the Roaring Creek Meeting house which was built in 1795. For more about these Monthly Meetings see the map below and information on them at the section of Monthly Meetings on this website. After the death of Priscilla, Robert married the widow Mary Watson, née Bowen, and lived out his life there, dying in 1819.

Levi Willets (1777-1828) - Rachel's husband.

Levi5, Isaac4, Thomas junior3, Thomas senior2, Richard Willets (Emigrant)

It was there in 1797 Catawissa, Pennslyvania that 17-year-old Rachel married 19-year-old Levi Willets. (Footnote: Willett, Albert James, The Willett families of North America (Southern Historical Press, Easley, S.C. 1985); Quaker records at Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 > PA > Berks > Exeter MM > Genealogy of Berks > Image 42, - Family of Robert Field. ) In 1807 Levi and Rachel pulled up stakes, sold their land in Pennsylvania, and moved west. (Footnote: Thanks to Ryan Wadeigh for the abstract of the deed. Columbia County Deeds, Vol. 2, Pg. 293: On July 3, 1807, "Levi Willits of Hemlock Township Northumberland County and State of Pennsylvania, Yeoman with Rachel his wife" sold land to John Evans of Trenton Township, Hunterdon Co., New Jersey for $1,200. This was 50 acres of land in Hemlock Township, which joined the Susquehanna River and other landowners including Andrew Clark and Josiah Willits. The deed contains a detailed ownership history; it was owned by Isaiah Willits from 1771 to 1783 and then purchased by Levi Willits on December 3, 1803 from Samuel Potts. Signed by Levi Willits and Rachel Willits. Witnessed by William Mears and Gabriel Lount. Recorded on February 9, 1808. [Same deed is also in Volume O, Page 362 of Northumberland County Deeds.]
https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CSFM-S91N Columbia Co. (PA) Deeds, Vol. 2, DGS 8036678 Images 428-9 )
It is likely they made a stop in Ohio before ending up in Wayne County, Indiana where Levi died in 1828 at the age of 50. (Footnote: Willett, page 298 puts Levi’s younger brother in Salt Creek Township, Pickaway County, Ohio in 1813 but does not provide evidence of that. It would seem likely that the two brothers and their families moved west together. Both appear on the 1820 census of Wayne County, Indiana ) Nine years after his death Rachel remarried the widower William Kerlin, (Footnote: Marriage Records, Book B; Page 637 Wayne County Marriage Records searchable at http://www.co.wayne.in.us/marriage/retrieve.cgi. "Rachel Willitts married William Kerlin on 1837-05-18." ) a Virginia native. She lived to the age of 71, dying in Wayne County in 1851. There is no indication that Rachel, or anyone else in the family, maintained their Quaker faith yet they had relocated to a county in Indiana that was heavily Quaker. (Footnote: In Wayne County there is a Rachel Willets who was received to the New Garden MM from the West Grove MM in 1831, but she was likely the wife of Henry Willetts, originally of North Carolina. (Ancestry Quaker Meeting Records, image 215 in Indiana > Wayne > New Garden MM > Record of Friends. ) Richmond, the county seat of Wayne county, is to the home to Earlham College, founded in 1847 as a boarding high school for Quaker adolescents.

Isaac Willets - Levi Willets' father

Isaac Willets (abt 1728-1784), Levi’s father, was disowned from the Quakers in 1756. The French and Indian war began in 1755 when colonials, led by George Washington, attempted to regain western Pennsylvania from the French. Following their defeat in July of 1755, Indian raids eastward intensified, prompting the State to authorize a series of dozens of forts extending southwest to northeast along the foothills to defend the frontier. (Footnote: Little more than log hut outposts where militia could gather. For a timeline of raids see Sipe, C. Hale, The Indian Wars of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, 1929), page 723. At https://archive.org/details/indianwarsofpenn00sipe/page/722/mode/2up .For a list of forts, see webpage at “Forts of the French and Indian War” at http://frenchandindianwarforts.weebly.com/list-of-pennsylvania-forts.html (Accessed 6/1/2021) ) The raids forced the family to flee their homestead at Maiden Creek, and Thomas’s sons John and Isaac, Levi’s father, broke with the Quakers and were subsequently disowned by the Exeter Monthly Meeting in 1756. (Footnote: "Whereas Isaac Willets having been Educated amongst us the People called Quakers; but for want of giving heed to the Dictates of Truth within himself, hath of late enlisted himself as a Soldier, and Joined with them that make Preparations for War., it being Contrary to our known Principles and or Discipline, which he hath been Dealt with for; and he persisting in his Outgoing. We do therefore hold ourselves Engaged to testify against him the said Isaac Willits & his Practice, and do hereby Declare him not to be one of our Society until he comes to Witness that godly Sorrow which worketh true Repentance; which that the Lord may grant him is our sincere Desire." ("Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935," PA > Berks > Reading MM > Minutes, 1737-1763 > Image 202; digital images(accessed 22 Apr 2021)) ) His father Thomas remained a steadfast Quaker until the end of his life.

Isaac and his wife Elizabeth whose maiden name is not known but some consider to be Wilson, were living on his father’s land in 1769, but two years later the family, now with five young children, moved some forty-five miles northwest to Catawissa where forty-three-year-old Isaac purchased 400 acres of land on the Susquehanna River a mile south of the mouth Fishing Creek at Catawissa where there was an old Indian town. Within nine years seven more children were added to the family, Levi being born in 1777. (Footnote: 1769 Tax record is in History of Berks County in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1886), page 1191. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/loc.ark:/13960/t1hh6zn5p?urlappend=%3Bseq=1301;
Land purchase is Willett, page 271. )

Thomas Willets junior (1683-after 1772) - Isaac's father

Thomas Willets was born in Jericho, Long Island. In 1736 he left there with his family and settled in Oley township, northwest of Philadelphia some 30-40 miles, where they joined the Qwynedd Meeting of Friends. (Footnote: At the Women’s Meeting held at Gwynedd the 29 of 1st month (March) 1737 Rachel Willits produced a certificate from Westbury (LI) Monthly Meeting which was read and received. ( https://www.friendsjournal.org/legacy/abington/gwynedd/womens_minutes1730.html ) The Qwynedd MM was formed by Welsh Quakers about 1698 north and west of Philadelphia. ) During the next decades the hearty family pushed further west into the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains to the Maiden Creek Valley just north of Reading, where, as we have seen, they faced head-on the French and Indian war in 1755. (Footnote: On the 27th of the 2nd month (April), 1738) at the Exeter MM meeting (Reading), probably at Maiden Creek, Thomas Willets produced a certificate from the Westbury, Long Island Meeting which was received and read. Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 > PA > Philadelphia > Byberry MM >,” Exeter MM Book A > Image 7 ) He had married in Long Island about 1719, Rachel, the daughter of Thomas Powell senior as his second wife. Five children were born to this marriage, the first son being Isaac. His first wife, Catherine née Hallock, had died in 1718 leaving five small children. All of his ten children were born in Long Island and the youngest, Isaiah, was only three years old when the family ‘pulled up stakes’ and went to Pennsylvania. Both Thomas and Rachel lived into their nineties. Click here to see the family as compiled in 1930 for the Exeter Monthly Meeting by John E. Eshelman.

Of Thomas, Albert Willett in his 1985 book wrote,

“Whatever the beliefs of his children were, Thomas Willets remained a Quaker. He was nearly 80 now (ed: 1761 – see footnote), and between the Indian threat, poverty, and advancing age, longed to visit his family in Long Island. Being the type of man who would plunge into an unknown frontier, the idea of a journey by an 80-year-old man across the mountains to Philadelphia, then across the state of New Jersey, or by boat around New Jersey to New York, seemed only natural. (Footnote: “In October 1761, Thomas and Rachel were granted a certificate to visit Westbury Meeting on Long Island. After remaining there for the winter, they returned to Exeter Meeting in April, 1762.” Willett, page 260 citing Bartlett, page 42.
Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 > PA > Berks > Exeter MM > Removals, 1755-1886 > Image 10: “From Exeter Monthly Meeting held the 29th of the 10mo 1761 to the Friends of Westbury Monthly Meeting on Long Island. Whereas our Frds Thomas Willits and Rachel his wife, having a Mind to go and stay the Winter Season amongst their Children and Friends on the Island, and requesting a few Lines by way of Certificate on that Account…” The approval was signed by 16 women and 17 men. Subsequent records, like the one recorded in the Reading Minutes of the meeting of 24 June 1762, show they returned as their return certificate from Westbury is read and approved. )
According to the journal of Clement Willits, of Long Island, eldest child of Thomas by his first wife, “her father was still living in 1772, still able to attend Meeting three miles from his home and work in his garden.” (Footnote: Clement, who never married, was the eldest daughter of Thomas junior’s first wife, Catherine Hallock, whose sister Clement married Thomas junior’s brother Isaac. ) He was then in his ninetieth year. Records show that many of Thomas’ children and grandchildren continue to live in the Blue Mountain area stretching from York and Adams Counties on the west, to Berks and Schuykill Counties on the east. Rachel died (possibly) in the late summer of 1793 (or later); she had survived until at least her 96th year and 7th month.” (Footnote: Willett, pgs 259-260 citing Bartlett, pages 69, 175ff; Bookstaver, page 84; Bunker, pages 85-86; Hook, pages 93-94; Wardwell, page 116). )
The map above shows the approximate distance to Catawissa as well as a few of the forts that were built in 1756 to fend off the Indian attacks from the west. Also the location of Maiden Creek and Oley Townships.
Robert Field moved to Catawissa from Abington. Thomas Willet junior came from Long Island to Oley Township and then to Maiden Creek before the French and Indian War.

Thomas Willets senior (1650-1714) & his father Richard

Principal locations of the Quaker families in Long Island:
Willets, Powell, Field, Townsend.

Thomas’ father, Thomas Willets senior (1650-1714) was born in Hempstead the son of Richard and Mary née Washburn and became a Quaker about 1691 under the influence of his widowed mother Mary who outlived her husband by 49 years, dying the same year as her son. Born in the Dutch community of Hempstead, he lived in exiting times. At 15 he saw an English fleet led by Captain Thomas Willett, with whom he is sometimes confused and who became the first English mayor of New York, sail into New Amsterdam and demand of Governor Peter Stuyvesant surrender of the colony which happened two years later in 1667. When about 20, Thomas senior married Dinah Townsend in Rhode Island, and three years later bought land in Jericho where it is probably that all their nine children were born. He later moved across the island to what is now Islip where he died in 1714, within months of the death of his 84-year-old mother. His wife Dinah outlived him by eighteen years. (Footnote: Willett, pages 251-252 for Thomas Willets and Dinah Townsend ) Dinah was the daughter of Richard Townsend and Deliverance Cole about more further on.

Richard Willets (abt. 1618 - 1665)

Richard Willets (about 1618-1665), the emigrant father of Thomas senior, had emigrated from England about 1640 and came to Hempstead on Long Island from Rhode Island or Connecticut. Richard was a Puritan and one of those who did not appreciate the strict Calvinism of the Massachusetts Puritans. He was probably never a Quaker, dying as he did in 1665 although his widow did become a Quaker. While he may not have been one of the original patentees of land granted the Dutch government of New Netherland in what is known as Keift’s patent of 1643, he was a very early settler in Hempstead. He was among a group who bought Thorne Farm in 1650 on land now named after him: Willets Point where the baseball New York Mets play in Citi Field. (Footnote: Willett, pages 248-249. Citi Field was built in 2009 after Willett's book, but Willets Point is also home to Fort Totten Park, the site of a Civil War Fort. )


The Powell Connection

Rachel Powell (1697- abt. 1793) - daughter of Thomas Powell.

Thomas Willets junior (1683-aft.1772) married into one of the more influential families of 17th and 18th century Long Island, that of Thomas Powell senior (1641-1722). His daugther, Rachel (1697-1793) married her second cousin Thomas. (Footnote: Rachel and Thomas were 2nd cousins, once removed, descendants of the brothers John Townsend and Richard Townsend respectively. Rachel wasn’t the only one to marry into the Powell family. Her half-brother Thomas (s/o Thomas Sr. & Abigail Wood) married Mary Willets (d/o Thomas Sr and Dinah); her half-sister Abigail (d/o Thomas Sr. & Abigail Wood) married Richard Willets (s/o Richard Willets senior and Mary Washburn) ) Rachel was fourteen years younger than Thomas who had lost his first wife, Catherine Hallock, leaving him with five children under ten years old. She took on that young family and bore him five more children. As seen in the above section on Thomas junior, hers was an adventurous life; leaving two of their now grown children on Long Island, (Footnote: Rachel’s step-daughter Clement stayed and never married. Step-daughter Hannah married within a few years and lived out her life around Westbury, Long Island. ) Rachel and Thomas took four boys and four girls, ages between twenty-two and three, to somewhat wilderness seventy miles west of Philadelphia in 1736. (Footnote: Thomas appears on a list of Brunswick Township settlers “between the first Ridge of Mountains of Schuylkill and Sweatboro” who were taxed in 1752 to defray the charge by the County to lay out the townships. See webpage “Early Tax And Census Lists: Brunswick Twp, Berks (now Schuylkill) Co, PA” at http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/berks/taxlist/bruntl.txt (accessed July, 2021.) ) As mentioned above, 64-year-old Rachel accompanied her 78-year-old husband Thomas across country to visit family and friends in 1761, returning after a winter on Long Island. She was close to a hundred years old when she died.

Thomas Powell senior (1641-1722)

Levi Willets' descent from Thomas Powell: Levi4 & Rachel Field, Isaac Willets3, Rachel2 & Thomas Willets junior, Thomas Powell senior (Emigrant)

Rachel Powell’s father, Thomas Powell senior, was a “big man” in Long Island history. His ancestry has long been debated, some saying he came from Wales, some say he was born in Connecticut, or was the son of Captain Thomas Powell, a mariner who left his son in the care of a friend in Connecticut. (Footnote: A sketchy history of the Powell family which believes he was the son of Captain Powell is at https://www.genealogy.com/ftm/s/e/e/Sylvia-See-AB/FILE/0075page.html This is also the scenario given in his Find-a-Grave memorial: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/101536354/thomas-powell ) His Wikipedia article, in the section “Early life,” reviews some of the sources of the debate over his parentage with no conclusion. Still, a Thomas Powell first appears in the Huntington (L.I) Town Records as the Recorder of Deeds recording a deed in July of 1657. This would seem to be the father of “my” Thomas Powell senior (1641-1722) for it is unlikely a sixteen year old would be the recorder. The author of the 1887 Town Records, Charles R. Street, says in a footnote on page 56,

“After considerable research I am of the opinion that he was the son of Thomas Powell, who, pursuant to a warrant of the Earl of Carlisle, was sent from London to the Barbadoes Island in 1635. He probably came from those Islands to Huntington with Jonas Wood, of Halifax, when the latter was on a voyage to those Islands in the rum and sack trade, for it appears by the Court records that he had, when younger, lived with Jonas Wood nine years. Near the end of his life he acquired and occupied a large tract of land on the border of Queens County, near, or including what is now Woodbury.” (Footnote: Street, Charles R., Huntington Town Records, Including Babylon, Long Island, N.Y. (Hereafter HTR) (Place of publication not identified: Towns of Huntington and Babylon, N.Y, 1887.) Fn, page 56. https://archive.org/details/huntingtontownre01hunt/page/56/mode/2up ) (Clearly, the “he” in the first sentence is the Thomas born in 1641 who died in 1721/22 age 80.)

It has been asserted that he became a Quaker about 1682. (Footnote: Vol. IV, pp. 1688-1689 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911) Transcribed online at http://www.schenectadyhistory.org/families/hmgfm/powell.html - "He was again chosen constable in 1682, but refused to serve, being "scrupulous of swearing as the law directs." The constable had to swear to levy and collect the church rates. After the year 1688, at which time he was surveyor, he was more engaged with appointments in Friends Meetings than public business. He attended the monthly meetings which were held alternately at Jericho and Westbury. The last mention of his name on the records was in this wise: "28-12mo. 1721 died Thomas Powell Senr., being well respected as a worthy Friend, and died in Unity with Friends." ) His conflict with the Puritans in Huntington go back further than that. The Duke’s Laws, enacted in 1665 by the Duke of York at Hempstead for the government of New York specified that a tax be imposed for the support of the Puritan minister. Thomas Powell refused to pay as early as 1676 and by 1681 was in debt £8.15s.10d. (Footnote: HTR, page 308. ) That same year he was chosen constable but refused to serve “having scruples of swearing as the law directs.” (Footnote: HTR, page 334. ) There was never a Meeting in Huntington and no Quaker records that I’ve found other than his daughter Rachel who produced a certificate from Westbury when she removed to Pennsylvania. His name appears frequently in the Huntington town records for land deals and records that reflect his standing in the community.

In 1695, Thomas bought nearly 10,000 acres of land which is known as the Bethpage Purchase from several Indian tribes in west-central Long Island which he sold off in parcels to fellow Quakers, leaving the remaining to his children. (Footnote: Will is transcribed online at http://www.nextech.de/genealogy/purchase/e31.htm (accessed May, 2021) ) The approximate size, if not the location of that acreage is in an inset on the map on this page, and there is more information on the Bethpage Purchase at its Wikipedia article (see below for link.)

Thomas was married twice, first at age 22 to 18-year-old Abigail Wood who bore seven children; then at 49 and a widower, he married 25-year-old Elizabeth née Townsend, the widow of Theophilus Phillips who bore another seven of his children, Rachel Powell being the third. More about Elizabeth further on. He was the progenitor of many lines of the Powell surname into America. Three of his children married into the Willets family – Rachel, Abigail, and Thomas junior.

While his parentage is speculative, his life in America, through land purchases, the Town Records of Huntington where he appears frequently, and printed genealogies is well documented. His second wife, Rachel’s mother, was born Elizabeth Townsend (1665-1720). They married in 1690 when she was the same age as Thomas’ eldest son. With her we enter the fascinating history of the Townsend family of Oyster Bay, Long Island which lies but five miles west of Huntington around the bay.


The Townsends of Oyster Bay

When Rachel Powell married Thomas Willets junior about 1719 she was marrying her second cousin, albeit once removed. (Footnote: Rachel was descended from John Townsend’s son John, hence the one generation difference: “once removed.” ) Both were descended from Townsends, Rachel from John Townsend (abt. 1610-1668) , Thomas from John’s brother Richard Townsend (abt. 1624-1670).

Three brothers, John, Richard, and Henry Townsend, came to America from Norwich, County of Norfolk, England sometime in the early 1640s and settled first in Rhode Island and then eventually in and around Oyster Bay, Long Island. (Footnote: A Memorial of John, Henry, and Richard Townsend and their Descendants, (W.A. Townsend, publisher, New York, 1865), page 81, Chapter I. Online at https://archive.org/details/memorialofjohnhe00newy/page/n7/mode/2up ) Rachel Field, and myself, are descended from two of them, John and Richard. Richard Townsend (1624-1670), the father of Dinah who married Thomas Willetts, Sr., was the uncle of the John Townsend II (1640-1715) whose daughter Elizabeth married Thomas Powell senior. Somewhat of a tangled web in that both brothers, John, my 8th great-grandfather, and Richard, my 7th great-grandfather, died intestate leaving widows named Elizabeth, both of whom distributed their husbands’ estates. (Footnote: Oyster Bay Town Records, pages 61-65. (New York, 1916). The division of the estate by Richard’s widow is dated “this Eight day of ye Second month 1671” (April 8, 1671 new style). The division of the estate of John by his widow is dated “Tenth day of ye fifth month 1671” (July 10, 1671 new style). Online at https://archive.org/details/oysterbaytownrec01coxj/page/60/mode/2up )

Much of what is known about the Townsends comes from the 1865 Memorial of John, Henry, and Richard Townsend, but much online is concerned with an error pointed out first in 1935 as to the identity of John Townsend II's wife, which, in the “Memorial” was speculated as “Phebe.” That, and an error in that correction has led to a rampant proliferation of errors in family trees online. (Footnote: “Regarding the correction in the Townsend Memorial regarding the wife of John Townsend II” https://www.familysearch.org/photos/artifacts/16090535 - unknown author and somewhat confusing, but a good description of the problem. ) Nevertheless, the FamilySearch.org pages on the family are quite complete and rigorous in their documentation and maintain, correctly, that all we really know about John II’s wife is that her name was Hannah, some claiming without evidence she was a Powell. It is from the FamilySearch pages that my lineage is derived, but the “Memorial” gives much in the way of the history of the family in Long Island through town land records and Quaker records. Oyster Bay only briefly had a Monthly Meeting; in 1672 Society of Friends founder George Fox visited a ‘half-yearly’ meeting of Quakers at Oyster Bay, but no minutes of meetings exist before 1697 for this region that I know about.

John Townsend I (abt. 1610-1668) & Elizabeth [Montgomery] (1620-1684)

Levi Willets' descent from John Townsend: Levi6 & Rachel Field, Isaac5, Rachel4 & Thomas Willets, Jr., Elizabeth3 & Thomas Powell, Sr., John II2, John Townsend I (Emigrant)

John’s wife is often given as “Elizabeth Montgomery”, but no proof of that has been established as to her maiden name. Along with his brother Henry, as well as Robert Field senior and junior, Quakers, signed the Flushing Remonstrance, about which more can be learned on the Field page in this sub-website.

John was one of those given a patent to lands in the Town of Flushing in the early 1640s by the Dutch Governor Kieft. According to the “Memorial,” he had previously held lands in New York but left for Long Island to remove himself from Indian troubles. As a Quaker he ran into trouble in 1648 with Peter Stuyvesant, as did Robert Field senior and junior, and decided to relocate to Warwick, Rhode Island for a period where supposedly all three brothers were members of the Provincial Assembly. (Footnote: “Memoir”, page 82 which cites Thompson’s History of Long Island. (I have not been able to find that in Thompson’s History.) ) In 1656 the brothers were among those who purchased land in Jamaica from the Rockaway Indians, granted from the Governor. (Footnote: Thompson, History of Long Island, page 221. ) Sometime in the first half of 1661 John relocated to Oyster Bay, buying a house in that town on South Street. He died intestate in 1668, but his widow, “with the advice of my husband’s two brothers, Henry and Richard Townsend, and with the advice and consent of my two eldest sons, John and Thomas Townsend, all of Oyster Bay, above said, have together parted my said husband’s estate amongst his six younger children…James, Rose, Anne, Sarah, George and Daniel.” (Footnote: “Memoir” pages 87-91; Oyster Bay Town Records, pages 63-65. ) Also named was daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Gidian Wright.

John Townsend I's grave marker.

John was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery, a small cemetery in a residential neighborhood of Oyster Bay which is also the burial place of Robert Townsend, one of George Washington's spies. His brother Henry is buried just blocks away in the Townsend Cemetery where supposedly Richard is buried, but I find his memorial suspect. (Footnote: The 2007 “Historic Cemeteries of Oyster Bay” has no listing for Richard, yet the Find-a-Grave memorial claims that a stone with “R.T.” on it is Richard. The 2007 Historic Cemeteries lists Henry as in Townsend Cemetery just blocks away from Fort Hill Cemetery where John is buried and has a plaque. Henry has no Find-a-Grave memorial. John does and Richard’s is possibly bogus. I tend to believe the town historian. The Historic Cemeteries guide can be had at http://longislandgenealogy.com/OysterBayCem.pdf )

John Townsend II (1640-after 1715) & Hannah (1641-1710)

Of John, the son of John the 1st, a bit is known from the Memoir. Even more is known from the Oyster Bay Town Records, which are replete with evidences of the family. As for Hannah, there is only presumptive proof that she was “Hannah”, and none as to her parentage; articles have been written about who she wasn’t. Some consider her to be a Powell. In addition to the evidence that John and Hannah were witnesses to a marriage, see footnote, (Footnote: From her FamilySearch “Life Sketch”: “She was alive as late as 1686/7 when Hannah signed along with John on the Quaker Marriage Certificate of Marcy Willets and John Fry of Jericho on 7th day of ye lst mo., 1686/7. This does not mean that Hannah was not alive at a later date, but the above dated document is the last one so far found.” Unfortunately, the author does not give where it was found, and I haven’t found it. ) there is a transfer of land in 1669 that was witnessed by John Townsend and Hannah who gave her mark. (Footnote: Oyster Bay Town Records, page 52 ) Presumptive evidence, but fairly convincing that her name was Hannah.

The Town Records of Oyster Bay are replete with evidence of the Townsend family. Besides the probate of John I’s lands by his wife mentioned above, in November of 1668 she deposed that her husband had given certain lands to their son John in 1660. In 1694, John and his brother Thomas, then in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, deposed in the town records that the lands distributed by their mother to their brothers and sisters shall be theirs to use. Evidently a dispute had arisen between the two brothers and they recorded their resolution in the town records. (Footnote: Oyster Bay Town Records, page 583-584. )

Elizabeth Townsend (1665-1720) - wife of Thomas Powell senior

Elizabeth, the great-grandmother of Levi Willets, was the daughter of John II and Hannah and while there doesn’t seem to be any confirmed birth or baptism records that name the parents, drawn from a number of secondary sources, it is accepted that that Elizabeth was their second child and second daughter. Twenty-year-old Elizabeth first married Theophilus Phillips in 1684/85, at age 32 his third wife. Following his death in 1688 she married into one of the more prominent families on Long Island, the Powells as discussed above. (Footnote: Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol. III, page 456. Westbury MM – Hinshaw mistakenly identifies her mother as “Phebe”- likely following the “Memoir.” and gives three children to Elizabeth’s marriage, evidently with her first husband Theophilus. I hope to clarify this with an examination of the actual Westbury Quaker records. Hinshaw’s recording is so cryptic that it needs to be double-checked. ) Her death, age 55, is reported variously as occurring in 1720 in Bethpage, Long Island.

Richard Townsend (abt. 1624-1670) & his wife Deliverance Cole

Levi Willets’ descent from Richard Townsend: Levi5 & Rachel Field, Isaac4, Thomas Willets, Jr3., Dinah2 & Thomas Willets, Sr., Richard Townsend (Emigrant)

Richard, the younger brother of John and Henry, supposedly married at 26 his first wife, 19-year-old Deliverance Coles. She bore two girls, Dinah and Leah before dying just two years after the marriage, likely in childbirth with Leah. Left with two babies, Richard married Elizabeth Wickes, likely in Rhode Island. Dying intestate, his death date is routinely given as 1670 because of the 1671 date of his widow’s division of his estate, and in which she names a son Richard, “now Twelve weekes old.” (Footnote: Oyster Bay Town Records, pgs. 61-63. ) One entry in the Oyster Bay Town Records makes me wonder about his death year. Dated 5th of December 1686 there is a deposition regarding Dinah’s inheritance of ten acres of land: “…now I John Townsend house Carpentr eldest son & Aire of ye Desesed Richard do consent unto yt act of theres in Disposing of that teen Achres of Land to Dinah…” (Footnote: Oyster Bay Town Records, page 345. ) Never does Elizabeth say in her division of property that her 12-week-old son Richard is the son of her husband Richard. She names all her children, including step-daughters Dinah and Leah as the daughters of her late husband’s first wife. Dinah’s marriage to Thomas Willet senior is all from secondary sources and is given as “about 1670” in the Willets genealogy.

There is little known about Richard other than he first appears in the records at Jamaica in 1656 as purchasing land along with his brothers, ten acres each, at Lusum which was the earlier name for Jericho. (Footnote: Records of the Town of Jamaica Long Island, New York, 1656-1751, (Long Island Historical Society, Brooklyn, 1914) Vol. 1, pgs. 23-24. Online at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.31951p00675226g&view=1up&seq=23&skin=2021 (Accessed 7-15-2021) – Both Henry and John appear rather frequently in the Jamaica town records, Richard only for his purchase of ten acres. ) While his two brothers, Henry and John, have Wikipedia pages, Richard does not. Previous to that he, along with his brothers, owned land in Cowesett, Warwick Township, Rhode Island which was finally sold in 1691 by his son Richard along with his cousins, Thomas Townsend, John Townsend, Thomas Willets & John Williams. (Footnote: Oyster Bay Town Records, page 606. )

Richard's wife Deliverance Coles (est. 1631 - est. 1652)
& her father Robert, the emigrant.

Levi Willetts' descent from Robert Coles: Levi Willets6 & Rachel Field, Isaac5, Thomas Willets, Jr.4, Dinah Townsend3 & Thomas Willets, Sr., Deliverance2 & Richard Townsend, Robert Coles (Emigrant).

Deliverance’s sister Ann married Richard’s brother Henry Townsend; her step-sister Sarah married into the Townsend family as well, marrying Thomas, the brother of John II. They were the daughters of Robert Coles, who came to Roxbury, Massachusetts as a passenger in Winthrop’s fleet of 14 ships that brought nearly a thousand Puritans to America; he was one of the first to be admitted to the Roxbury church. Robert soon got into trouble: he liked his drink. Restless, he went to Ipswich and then to Salem, and numerous fines were imposed upon him for drunkenness until he was finally disenfranchised about 1637, at which point he joined Roger Williams in Providence, Rhode Island. His name appears frequently in the Providence records selling land and in disputes along with William and Benedict Arnold, the ancestors of the famous Revolutionary War general and ‘traitor.’ Robert has an extensive biography in a Wikipedia article to which the reader is referred as it is correct and more detailed than I wish to go into here. He is also has a topic in the renown The Great Migration Begins and the “Life Sketch” in his FamilySearch.org page is well written. (Footnote: Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Coles_(settler);
The Great Migration: https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2496/images/42521_b158318-00509;
FamilySearch Life Sketch: https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/L8BB-56R )


Appendix

Family of Thomas Willets junior and his wife Rachel Powell in the 1930 "Genealogy of Berks"
Oyster Bay: Distribution of the estate of John Townsend by his wife Elizabeth - 1671.
Oyster Bay: Distribution of the estate of Richard Townsend by his wife Elizabeth - 1671.

Sources and References

A number of sources are referenced in the footnotes, but primarily I have used the following printed genealogies or databases, or are included for future reference:

  1. Anderson, Robert Charles. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, Volumes 1-3; The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volumes 1-6. Boston: New England Historical and Genealogical Society, 1996-2011. Online at Ancestry.com https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2496/ and americanancestors.org (NEHGS).
  2. Bartlett, Ted Lawrence, The Willits family (Chicago, 1982). Not examined but at a number of genealogy libraries. Not online. Albert Willett calls this book a definitive work on the Willits family, fully documented and includes collateral lines. WorldCat listing for a copy near you see http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/9226248
  3. Bunker, Mary Powell. Long Island Genealogies (Albany, N.Y., 1895) online at https://archive.org/details/longislandgenea00bunkgoog/page/n9/mode/2up Powell and Willets families covered extensively.
  4. Eshelman, John E., compiler, “Genealogy of Berks County Friends in Pennsylvania”, (1930) digitized at Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 > Pennsylvania > Berks > Exeter Monthly Meeting > Genealogy of Berks. – contains the families of Robert Field and that of Thomas Willets. A rather fascinating document for Quakers of that era and region. https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2189/images/31906_283788-00447
  5. Huntington Town Records, including Babylon, Long Island, (Town of Huntington, 1887) https://archive.org/details/huntingtontownre01hunt/page/n19/mode/2up - Search Powell or see the index.
  6. “Matthias Harvye, A Very Public Man,” Beach, Harriet, NYG&B Record, Vol. 123 (1992), issue 1: 11-16, 87-93. https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/online-records/nygb-record-full-text/566-615 (Membership needed.) – Harvye was the second husband of Robert Coles’ widow. Contains much of interest to descendants of Robert.
  7. A Memorial of John, Henry, and Richard Townsend and their descendants (New York, W.A. Townsend publisher, 1865). Online at https://archive.org/details/memorialofjohnhe00newy/page/n7/mode/2up (Accessed June, 2021) Chapter XV (page 211) - discusses Richard Townsend but then only several of his sons.
  8. Macdonough, Rodney, The Macdonough-Hackstaff Ancestry, (S. Usher, Boston, 1901. https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/005731532 - Excellent articles on Robert Coles and Henry Townsend.
  9. Overton, Jacqueline, and Phoebe Dodge. “THE QUAKERS ON LONG ISLAND.” New York History, vol. 21, no. 2, 1940, pp. 151–161. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23134981. Accessed 13 July 2021. – an interesting overview.
  10. Oyster Bay Town Records, Vol. I – 1653-1690, (Published by order of the town, Tobias Wright, publisher, New York, 1916.) Online at https://archive.org/details/oysterbaytownrec01coxj/page/n5/mode/2up - an incredible collection of records relative to the Townsends. See the index.
  11. Seaman, Mary Thomas. Links in Genealogy, Memorial of Samuel Hicks Seaman and his wife Hannah Richardson Husband (New York, 1927) online at FamilySearch.org: http://www.familysearch.org/library/books/idurl/1/760967 and also Ancestry.com. Covers first generations of many families including Cole, Powell, Townsend, Washburn, and Willets.
  12. Thompson, Benjamin Franklin, History of Long Island, (R.H. Dodd, New York, 1918), Vol. 3. https://archive.org/details/historyoflongisl03thom/page/n15/mode/2up - Articles on Huntington, Oyster Bay, Hempstead, Flushing, Newtown, among others.
  13. “The Townsend Society of America” of Oyster Bay, NY “holds resources that includes genealogical material donated to us over the years. We have a small archive.” For members: https://townsendsociety.org/index.php
  14. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 - these are both searchable and browsable and invaluable. Not all Meetings are there, but there are many.
  15. Wadleigh, Ryan, “Wadleigh – Brown – Plymale -Bixby” (Website – Surname Willits: http://www.ryanwadleigh.com/willits.html
  16. Willett, Albert James, The Willett families of North America (Southern Historical Press, Easley, S.C. 1985), page 248-249 available to borrow at https://archive.org/details/willettfamilieso01will/page/248/mode/2up
  17. Online at a website (accessed June, 2021) called "Life Along the Mississippi River in the 1800's" is much Willets history: see the page at https://freepages.rootsweb.com/~mygermanfamilies/history/Willits.html

Wikipedia Articles

Wikipedia articles are sometimes incorrect or misleading, but often are, like Ancestry Family Trees, a guide to further resources. The following are pretty good:

  1. Robert Coles https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Coles_(settler)
  2. Thomas Powell: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Powell_(1641-1722)
  3. Bethpage Purchase: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethpage_Purchase
  4. John Townsend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Townsend_(Norwich)
  5. Henry Townsend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Townsend_(Norwich)

Find-a-Grave memorials

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 that open in a new window or tab.


Footnotes:

References to online sources are not hyperlinked. Select the link, right click and Open or Go to source in a new window or tab.

Footnotes:



Page created May, 2021; Updated July, 2021.

© Text copyright: Steve Spicer

Feel free to email me: steve@spicerweb.org