Are the origins of John Spencer (1754-1829) of Pennsylvania in Culpeper, Virginia?

+3 votes
John Spencer, who became Quaker after his unapproved marriage to one and lived in Half Moon Valley, Pennsylvania, is almost always seen as the offspring of Samuel Bond Spencer of Philadelphia but always without any documentation.

There are two family histories of seemingly separate origin, one from Spencer family descendants and one from the Lightfoot (John's wife) family descendants which both give the origins of John Spencer as being Culpeper, Virginia. There is seemingly no reason to make such a connection other than this appears to have been or become common knowledge in the family. I am unable to find records that might point to a Spencer family in Culpeper 1720s-50s to which he might belong. Would some of our Virginia colonial record specialists be able to assist with this search?  Thanks in advance.
WikiTree profile: John Spencer
in Genealogy Help by T Stanton G2G6 Pilot (251k points)

3 Answers

+3 votes
My line from John Spencer starts in Loudoun County, Virginia. Some stayed there and others moved into Illinois, where a lot of them stayed. One branch (mine- David Benton Spencer) Moved into Kansas, His children and ex wife went on to Texas, New Mexico, California. I don’t know if this helps you to distinguish the separate lines.

Feel free to contact me if you have any more questions about this line.

  Pennie Spencer
by Pennie Spencer G2G Rookie (290 points)
Is it the same John Spencer or are the dates of the one in Loudoun County about the same?
+2 votes

Doesn't Halfmoon Valley, PA date from the 1780's ?  If he was living there he might be found in the 1790 PA US census, and in fact, there are a number of John Spencer's living in PA at that time.

If he was at Halfmoon, PA (located in Centre Co., PA which was founded in 1800 from parts of several counties including Huntingdon Co) this may be the 1790 census record for your John Spencer.  There is an image of the census record that should be reviewed to see if there were any other Spencer's living in the same area.

"United States Census, 1790," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 15 October 2020), John Spencer, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, United States; citing p. 131, NARA microfilm publication M637, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 8; FHL microfilm 568,148.

As it turns out there are at least 3 Spencer HOH's found in the 1790 census living in Huntingdon Co., PA.  John, James, and Robert.  It may be that James or Robert is the father of John ?

by David Douglass G2G6 Pilot (117k points)
edited by David Douglass

In terms of dating him in Half Moon Valley, we know the Centre Monthly Meeting wasn't officially formed until 1803 but I suspect, as with many meetings, there had been a preparatory meeting or unofficial meetings prior. Linn's history (p 310) of the county states George Wilson who founded the Quaker settlement came in 1792. Unfortunately, Linn doesn't give us much in the way of other dates regarding the settlement but John Spencer was among the first in that part of the valley.

I did today find what may be this John Spencer in the 1779 Pennsylvania Septennial Census under Uwchlan, Chester County which is where the Quaker meeting minutes regarding the marriage out of unity are found (though that term is not used). Unfortunately I am having zero luck in making the Ancestry share function where I found the record work (maybe someone can tell me how this is supposed to work vs their help page on it--I've not before used that function).

This would at least put John Spencer in close enough proximity to Susanna Lightfoot to have developed a relationship with her.  Susanna's father's occupation has not been found but it is suspected he was a miller like his father. It is possible John Spencer picked up the trade at that mill or was working there which is how he came to know Susanna.  All speculation. I found one obscure mention in Half Moon that he had come from Chester but where he was before Chester is still a search.

I've not yet found anything of any substance in Culpeper, Virginia.
There are a few John Spencer's in the 1810 census for Virginia, including one in Fairfax and Loudoun Co's, but none in Culpeper.  You may have already seen these.
+2 votes

Virginia Vital Records, Genealogical Publlishing Co., LOCN # 82-80464, ISBN 0-8063-0984-9, Excerpted and reprinted from the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the William and Mary College Quarterly Historica Magazine and Tayler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine:

Page xvi, APPENDIX C:  Bible Records from The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography:  ppgs 637-640.  Page 639 at NOTE is the John Spencer who moved from Pennsyslvania in 1761 to Loudon County, Virginia.  Grandfather Robert Whitten and Uncle Richard Whitten in Pennsylvania are also mentioned.  

I believe this is who you are looking for.

Kathryn Miller Spencer-35831

by Kathryn Spencer G2G6 (7.9k points)
Kathryn, does it say he moved from Loudon County to Pennsylvania? Or Pennsylvania to Loudon County? The John Spencer in question is believed to have moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania prior to 1781 and is documented in Pennsylvania thereafter.
Yes, this is the John Spencer you are looking for.  I will upload the page to your page, if it is okay, so you can see. If you want the other two pages from the Bible, I will send them.  Kathryn Miller Spencer


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