William Clayton (1632-1691), early Pennsylvania Provincial Council member, ancestry errors

+13 votes
703 views

The topic of this post is to discuss changes to the ancestry of William Clayton [[Clatyon-170]].  Previously, I had de-linked the erroneous connection from him to the noble house of De Clayton in England but now I see that the erroneous connection has returned.  Considering the historic nature of this individual, I think that there should be some project involvement, some discussion, and finally, some changes.

The profiles that are directly related to this question are:

William Clayton [[Clayton-170]] now merged with [Claiton-7]
Prudence (Lanckford) Clayton [[Lanckford-1]]
Honour (Clayton) Brown [[Clayton-149]]
William Clayton [[Clayton-172]]
Joan (Smith) Clayton [[Smith-5900]]
William Clayton Junr. [[Clayton-2220]]
Joan (Smith) Clayton [[Smith-63102]]
Elizabeth (Simmons) Clayton [[Simmons-2158]]
William Clayton [[Clayton-169]]
Margaret (Cholmondeley) Clayton [[Cholmondeley-28]]
Thomas Clayton [[Clayton-165]]
Agnes (Thornhill) Clayton [[Thornhill-8]]
William Clayton "the Elder" [[Clayton-173]]
Elizabeth (Unknown) Clayton [[Unknown-427661​]]
Rychard Cleton [[Cleton-1]]
Dorothy Burkenshall [[Burkenshall-1]]
William Claiton [[Claiton-7]] Merged with [Clayton-170]

William Clayton [[Clayton-170]] was a friend and supporter of William Penn; he traveled to Pennsylvania ahead of William Penn and there is some suggestion that he was an advanced agent for Penn (that he made land purchases from Native Americans on behalf of Penn) but this information is in dispute [edit to add: further research has shown that this is also an internet fantasy: William Clayton was on the same ship as the commissioners but he was not one of William Penn's Commissioners].  We do know for sure that he was the presiding justice of the first court held in Chester County, he was one of the first two judges of Philadelphia, and a member of Penn's council in 1683 and 1684.  He assisted in drafting many of Pennsylvania's laws at that time.  And in 1684 and 1685 he served as Governor of Pennsylvania (the 2nd governor of Pennsylvania).  William Clayton served as a Council member in 1683 and 1684.

Considering that William Clayton was quite an historic figure in the early colonies, in Pennsylvania, and as a Quaker, I'm surprised that this profile isn't project protected already.

Looking at the projects that he might fit under, I think that he would best fit in the William Penn and Early Pennsylvania Settlers Project, or the Quaker Project- I'm adding tags for those groups for visibility to this post (not sure if the Penn early settlers includes those who arrived before the fleet).

Research by Col. Charles M. Hansen, Louis E. Jones and Marilyn L. Winton-Misch have shown that the early 20th century writings of James Bellarts was in error and that William Clayton's ancestors are actually:

father: William Clayton (the younger)

grandfather: William Clayton (the elder) - currently linked to the wrong William Clayton (fixed)

great-grandfather: Rychard Cleton - not Thomas Clayton (who is currently linked) (now fixed).

I would like to begin a discussion about changing this line to reflect the research that have shown William's correct lineage.

Thank you for your attention.

WikiTree profile: William Clayton
in Genealogy Help by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (566k points)
edited by SJ Baty
It is really odd to me that William Clayton was a judge without any legal training. RJ is on the case with this tree - this strikes me as yet another compound person

A clerk signed his name - "William Clayton Jr"  which would lead me to guess was his son on the council, council president, and governor while Penn was absent). Curious why he couldn't sign his name...

All a law education does is teach you to work within the existing legal framework.  When the settlers arrived, there were no laws.  Considering that William Clayton was one of the men who wrote the laws, assuming that he can apply logic and act in an impartial way, I suppose his "legal training" was good enough to be a judge.

from: http://www.usahistory.info/colonies/New-Jersey.html

... the first important settlement in West Jersey was made in 1677, when two hundred and thirty people [William Clayton Sr. among them] sailed up the Delaware and founded Burlington, and within two years several hundred more had made their homes in the vicinity. Two wholly separate governments were now set up, and they were as different as white from black. The stern New England Puritans had settled in East Jersey in sufficient numbers to give coloring to the laws, and in these laws (enacted by the first assembly before the division) we find enumerated thirteen crimes for which the penalty was death. In West Jersey the government was exceedingly mild. A code of laws with the name of Penn at the top gave all power to the people, and made no mention of capital punishment. This was the first example of Quaker legislation in America.

Regarding the clerk, I believe it was William Sr. and Jr. who signed their own names, by their own hands, indicating their used suffixes.

http://www.njfounders.org/node/114

What I meant was a carpenter who couldn't sign his name probably had no legal training because he couldn't read, and it would be weird to pick a judge who was illiterate, let alone someone who had no training in common law. Penn didn't have a lot of people to choose from and  skilled tradesmen had high status so maybe this all makes sense. I always thought the colonists brought their understanding of English common law with them, but they certainly wrote new laws. One thing I read said Clayton was contracted to build the first jail cell, maybe that's all you need to know to be a JP.

"William Clayton was selected by William Markham, Proprietor of the Colony of West Jersey" -> William Markham wasn't the proprietor of West Jersey. I have some issues with these non-scholarly "Quaker" histories. Penn is such a notable person we really should try to cross-check this stuff with some more scholarly sources. William Penn has dozens of books written about him and Clayton doesn't appear in any of the histories of William Penn's life I've checked.  Also Markham never seems to rate much of a mention in Penn's life either.

Found a nice JSTOR article which addressed some of these questions; the justices were appointed by Penn and didn't necessarily have any legal training. The courts might have been more informal than English ones but they applied the same procedures and law; the Charter provided English criminal and common law applied until Penn altered them. 

Another explains my other questions - Penn's initial government had half or more of the representatives signed a mark next to their names, since very few people in the colony were qualified or could afford to serve in the legislature.

Ryerson cites Penn entrusts the government to Thomas Lloyd and the Provincial Council on Aug 6, 1684 (p.414), and Lloyd was president of the council from 1684-1688 (p. 417). He specifically wasn't the deputy governor described in the Frame of Government. John Blackwell, a Puritan, was appointed the first deputy governor (1688-1689), then back to a bunch of commission-style boards until Penn returned in 1699.

I don't think it is accurate to describe Clayton (or Lloyd) as governor. I'll go over to wikipedia and see if I can at least fix the list .

Thanks for your comments Kirk.

"since very few people in the colony were qualified or could afford to serve in the legislature"

I question the notion of "qualified."  Having a law degree qualifies you to work within a legal framework.  When you are creating your own government and laws, a law degree is about as useful as knowing Belgian when you live in Mongolia.  Clayton and most of the Quakers in the new colony were jailed, some multiple times, back in England.  Dollars to donuts your average prisoner in America knows more about the US justice system and its laws than the average American politician.

Again, not sure where you came up with the idea that William Clayton was illiterate.  You seem to be categorizing Clayton because some Quakers were illiterate.  It is documented that he signed his own name, not an x, that would imply literacy.

What I saw claimed was "acting governor" in 1684 - 1685.  I do believe that Penn departed (back to England) in 1684.  If not Clayton, do you know who carried the reigns in the governor's seat in 1684 - 1685?

I have read that he was on Penn's council and that Clayton died unexpectedly in 1689, long before much of the Pennsylvania history and inter-governmental feuds happened.  As I search the history sources I see that there are far more sources for the decade after 1689 than before.  There is documentation that Clayton acted at the direction of the council to erect a new jail in 1682 [1] & that he, William Penn, & the rest of the council participated in a witch trial in 1683 [2].

However, I am afraid though that this thread is getting well off of track.  I have started a new thread here - let's discuss Clayton's government service there.

1. Watson, John F. ''Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, in the olden time; being a collection of memoirs, anecdotes, and incidents of the city and its inhabitants, and of the earliest settlements of the inland part of Pennsylvania, from the days of the founders ...'' Philadelphia, PA: E. S. Stuart, 1891. Volume I, p. 356.

2.  Ibid, pp. 265-66.

On literacy - he didn't sign his name for some reason when appointed to the council by Markham.  This is usually a sign of illiteracy. Thomas Lloyd was the President of the Council 1684-1688, Penn specifically did not appoint a deputy governor.

 I'll keep looking for some more info on the early years of the council - haven't found anything about Clayton in JSTOR. He's not a notable person in my opinion, which is why he's not actually studied by historians.

Also, I love Google Books and Archive.org but you have to be very wary of old books. They are edited poorly and you hit one error and suddenly you've found the 2nd Governor of Pennsylvania. I think that's what happened here.  A biography of Penn is published about twice a year - I've requested a few to browse, but like I said, Clayton wasn't notable so he's not going to be in there.

A little less than three months later this post has come full circle.  William Clayton's profile has undergone a full makeover, an LNAB change, and is now included in the William Penn and Early Pennsylvania Settlers project.

Thanks to all who helped in the process.

10 Answers

+5 votes
 
Best answer
The incorrect ancestry of William Clayton [Clayton-170] can be traced back to researchers Henry F. Hepburn and James Belarts in the early 20th century.  These researchers incorrectly linked the ancestors of William Clayton to a Clayton family in nearby Rudgwick, and ultimately to a Clayton family in Yorkshire.

Hunt writes: "Other research by Col. Charles M. Hansen, Louis E. Jones and Marilyn L. Winton-Misch has shown that William Clayton, the immigrant ancestor, was not related to the Yorkshire family of that name," and:

"It is the opinion of Marilyn L. Winton-Misch of the National Society of Descendants of Early Quakers (NSDEQ), who spent years in England researching primary source records of early Quakers, that William Clayton of Walberton, baptized there on 24 February 1589, was the same person as William Clayton “the Elder” who later lived in Boxgrove, about four miles away. She determined there is no convincing evidence of a connection with the Clayton families of Rudgwick parish, 24 miles away."

Hunt does a very nice job of tying together the most recent research regarding this family.  His book was available online but I cannot find it anymore.  I do have a pdf copy; if you are interested in reading the pages pertinent to this lineage, please send me a PM.

Hunt, Roger D. ''The History of the Hunt Family''. Oregon City, OR: Privately published, 2011.
by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (566k points)
selected by Joyce Artz

I hadn't realized they screwed up the Sussex line as well

Hepburn doesn't mention Sussex.  He has Immigrant William coming straight out of the Yorkshire family.  Who are still of interest because other immigrants did - John Clayton the attorney general of VA and his son the "father of American botany".

For William, Hepburn goes with the memoirs of Judge TJ Clayton, presumably a descendant.  Looks like the judge had investigated, and not found anything, and handed down his verdict with authority even though he was making it up.

The judge had Immigrant William as the son of a Thomas who was the heir to Clayton Hall and was a son of William of Oakenshaw.

Hepburn figures the judge has garbled it, though he isn't rude enough to say so.  He decides there were 2 Thomases who were cousins.  It was Thomas son of John who was heir to Clayton Hall.

But he also shows a Thomas of London who is the son of William of Oakenshaw and the father of Immigrant William.

What isn't yet clear is, how he knows Thomas of London existed, how he knows he came from the Oakenshaw family (he's not in the published charts), and why he makes the immigrant the son of this Thomas and not the other one (since there's obviously no evidence, because he was neither).

But often one thing leads to another.  On WikiTree, although William's alleged son Thomas, known only from Hepburn,

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Clayton-166

has been unburdened of the Penn line, he's been claimed as the ancestor of some Brashers.

Looks like William B Brasher married an Elizabeth, daughter of a Thomas Clayton.  Nobody has a clue who he was, so the internet is making random stabs in the dark.

In the end, William (Claiton) Clayton Sr., the immigrant who was later on Penn's Provincial Council should have a tree that looks like:

William Claiton "the younger," b. 1610, Boxgrove, Sussex, England

William Cleton "the elder," b. 1589, Boxgrove, Sussex, England

Rychard Cleton, b. before 1563 in Walberton, Sussex, England

No it wasn't, this is

https://www.freereg.org.uk/search_queries/5b462f9a4325a65d65dffe28

Why does copying URLs not work half the time?

Slowly merging the duplicate profiles, removing the wrong parents, merging the duplicate wives - then will come the children.

In the end, the Yorkshire & Rudgwick profiles will be completely divorced from this line.
+7 votes
It  would be great,  if  DNA Matching could help with the Clayton Family genetic lineage..

My  Earliest Clayton,     William Clayton,  Born Circa 1743, Thirsk Yorkshire England..

Ref,  Yorkshire Banns'', D C  Thompson Family History;  William Clayton & Jane Sadler, both of Thirsk; 19 May St Mary, Thirsk Yorkshire..

I have my DNA  done..  If Anybody cared for My DNA ,  for  matching purposes,  would  oblige..

Lawrence Bennett Australia..
by Lawrence Bennett G2G3 (3.4k points)
I am a descendant through his daughter Honour Clayton, and have had my DNA tested.  However, I think this far back autosomal DNA would be of limited if any use.  What would be useful would be Y-DNA along a continuous paternal line back to William as compared with Y-DNA lines from descendants from other continuous paternal lines tracing back to some of the alternative Clayton lineages.
Surely a Y-DNA match can conclusively prove a connection or not.

But looking purely at the historical record, William is the son of William, granson of William, great-grandson of Rychard Cleton, all from Boxgrove and Walberton, nearly 500 kilometers from these other families.

Someone wrote a bad genealogy back in the 19th century, it has been copied so many times that people take it for gospel, and then in the 20th century we have more erroneous genealogy that ties this family to others.

If anywhere on the net gets it right, it should be Wikitree.
+5 votes

I considered adding this as a comment to the original text but I don't want to interrupt RJ's flow - he's on a roll and it is quite humorous.

He seems to have quite a better understanding of English geography (maybe he's from that island) whereas I had to rely on Google maps.  We can see from the research of Hansen, Jones, and Winton-Misch that Williams father, grandfather, and great-grandfather (William the younger, William the elder, and Rychard Cleton) were all from Boxgrove and Walberton.  The current ancestors, beginning with William's father are all in Yorkshire and Lancashire.  

We're not talking a small distance here: 473 kilometers.  To walk that distance would take 98 hours without rest.  If you made 50 kilometers a day by horse, it would be a distance of a week or so in travel.

William Clayton of Pennsylvania is far far removed from the Claytons he is currently tied to here on Wikitree.

Boxgrove man indeed.

by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (566k points)
edited by SJ Baty

FamilySearch has 5 pages of early Claytons spread along the south coast

https://www.familysearch.org/search/record/results?count=20&query=%2Bsurname%3Aclayton~%20%2Bbirth_place%3Asussex%20%2Bbirth_year%3A1500-1700~&collection_id=1473014&offset=100

so clearly they didn't all descend from a lone immigrant from Yorkshire around 1590.

Thanks for stopping on page 5: the Joan Claiton at the top of page 5 is the mother of the person who caused all this ruckus.  I've conveniently added that morsel to her profile - low hanging fruit and all...
Purely accidental - I didn't read them, and it didn't occur to me that the URL would go to a particular page.
+4 votes

And we have another immigrant

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Clayton-1597

Robert and Eleanor did have a son William, but he was an MP and Mayor of Liverpool and all that

http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/clayton-william-1650-1715

http://archive.org/stream/genealogist2619selb#page/n310/

The DoD is only a day off, but he died in Chester, England, not Delaware.

by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
How far apart do you reckon?  I mean by horse and all.
Not wanting to spoil  anybody's  fun,  concerning ( Clayton Family )

I  make  no  claim  to  any of  the  families  that  are  shown..

De-Cleton or  otherwise,  (  but  My Clayton's  come from

  Yorkshire /  Lancashire  area certain ) ..  (  link  to  jane Sadler by  anybody  else,  could  tie  in  further  back ),  ( Maybe )..

  All  my Known   Clayton family are mostly  HERE  In  Australia,  so  any  connection  to  a  USA  line  is  Doubtful,  unless DNA Matched..

although  in  my  FTDNA  the name Clayton  does  turn up  USA.
+5 votes

As Isabelle commented, the Quakers project is willing to PPP someone if need be. For this Clayton tangle, we'll need some direction as duplicates have been mentioned.

I assume that the help page for protection has already been reviewed. Please also review the criteria for Project Protection. Once you have confirmed which is the appropriate profile to be protected based on the four criteria listed, please let us know the specific WikiTree ID for that profile. Thanks

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (229k points)
Hi Debi, thanks for your reply.

PPP is perhpas premature at this point, maybe in a week or so.

I spent all day yesterday sorting out all of the profiles; I actually made an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of them.  I don't want to start merging yet because it looks like we have 3 families mixed together.  I think it best to separate the families, move the kids to the appropriate parents - some profiles don't need to be merged, they just need to be moved to other lines.  And, I don't want to separate parent/child connections without documentation so I've been sourcing each of the main players and once I have them all straight, I'll start working on moving the people to each of the 3 mixed families, then merge the family duplicates.

Another topic of discussion that will probably need to be addressed in another thread is which project to assign to?

Thanks, SJ. The "which project" discussion probably should go in a separate thread. See this recent one for examples of headings and discussion. I'll be learning right along with you on how to do this as it's the first controversial profile set that has come up since I became a leader on the Quakers project.

+4 votes

Was looking for Wentworths and bumped into another load of Claytons

https://archive.org/stream/visitationofcoun00cook#page/n360/

who also came out of Clayton Hall in Yorkshire, but had totally different arms. 

I figure the line goes back to about 1460 or earlier.

by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
+3 votes

I commented on this first, but since it's in the title of this G2G I just want to emphasize that William Clayton was never the governor, deputy governor or lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania. See Ryerson, William Penn's Gentry Commonwealth

by Kirk Hess G2G6 Mach 5 (54.6k points)
Only just noticed this post now - earlier today I had removed that bit.
William Clayton [Clayton-170] was merged into the proper LNAB: William Claiton [Claiton-7].  Most of the historical inaccuracies discussed in this thread were deleted, corrected, and/or otherwise annotated in the final profile.  A "== Disputed Origins ==" section was added at the top to explain to future visitors about the correct parentage of William.

An additional section "=== Historical facts in dispute ===" was also added and in two parts addresses two commonly repeated fallacies, specifically that William Clayton was one of William Penn's commissioners (he was not) and that he was the "acting Governor of Pennsylvania," or the "President of the Council."  By looking at the Council minutes we can see that William Clayton was an active member of the Council & served as council chair for one day when the regular chairman was away.

Additionally, I covered other items in dispute:

* That William's family traveled separately from him on another ship - while this idea is repeated in many contemporary biographies, in earlier accounts (19th century), it is mentioned that his family traveled with him.  Additionally, I include circumstantial evidence that supports that they traveled together.

* Birth & death dates and locations.  Across the internet there is a wide span of available dates and locations.  I researched as far back to the source documents that I could find and adjusted the dates & locations and documented them.

* I documented the LNAB as Claiton and sourced it.

* Documented (sourced) that he was a carpenter in his early life
+3 votes

Seems like it's all a smokescreen.  Hepburn's book, now I've read further, is about the Claytons of Delaware really.  They became federal senators and stuff.

They go back to a John and Joshua Clayton who bought land jointly in Kent Co DE in 1698.  But no further.

Rumour has it they were the sons of a Joshua Clayton who is "spoken of" by "authorities" as a minister of the gospel, accompanying Penn on his first visit, and maybe settling in Virginia.  But there seems to be no documentary trace of his existence in either hemisphere.

Despite which, having written 20 pages setting up his context, Hepburn duly announces that the hypothetical Joshua was a grandson of William Clayton of Oakenshaw, though he avoids telling us which of William's undocumented sons was Joshua's father.

The authority for this is that Senator John M Clayton once discussed the matter with Virginia Claytons and they decided they were of the same stock.

So basically nothing at all is known about the origins of the Delaware Claytons.  But you might not get that impression from reading the book.

Wikipedia got the impression they could be traced back to the battle of Hastings

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Clayton

by RJ Horace G2G6 Pilot (465k points)
edited by RJ Horace

PS sorry, not Wikipedia, it was this page

http://www.russpickett.com/history/claybio.htm

Your conclusions mirror those of Hunt & also those of Cheska Wheatley, scroll down to "Beware of Erroneous Clayton Research!"

Another version of the Delaware family

https://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/barker/5085/

In which it is said that the brothers John and Joshua Clayton, who show up in Kent Co DE in 1698, are listed as Penn Fleet passengers, on the Submission, aged 11 and 5 at the time.

Their father is said to have been a blacksmith called James.  Exit Joshua the imaginary immigrant.

Though Clayton Hall still seems to keep popping up, like it could still be true somehow, even though James is now supposed to have come from Cheshire.

I think the story is that Secretary of State John M Clayton of Delaware had pronounced that he was of the same stock as the Virginia Claytons.  And then Judge TJ Clayton of Pennsylvania had pronounced that he too was descended from a cousin of their ancestors.  And the pronouncements of such men are invariably authoritative, so poor Hepburn had the job of trying to figure out how to make all this fantasy come true.

I suppose that back then the temptation to blur lines was easier because there weren't so many internet researchers fact checking their fantasies.
And adding their own - in that forum post, Joshua the Quaker preacher has become "1st Colonial Governor of Delaware".

First "official" governor meaning I guess, non-provincial.

+4 votes
A lot of wrong spouses/parents, conflation & fantasy regarding William Clayton Sr.'s wife Prudence Lanckford.

Working on that mess also:

https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/636386/prudence-lanckford-and-prudence-mickel
by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (566k points)
+2 votes

William Clayton [Clayton-170] was merged into the proper LNAB: William Claiton [Claiton-7].  Most of the historical inaccuracies discussed in this thread were deleted, corrected, and/or otherwise annotated in the final profile.  A "== Disputed Origins ==" section was added at the top to explain to future visitors about the correct parentage of William.

An additional section "=== Historical facts in dispute ===" was also added and in two parts addresses two commonly repeated fallacies, specifically that William Clayton was one of William Penn's commissioners (he was not) and that he was the "acting Governor of Pennsylvania," or the "President of the Council."  By looking at the Council minutes we can see that William Clayton was an active member of the Council & served as council chair for one day when the regular chairman was away.

Additionally, I covered other items in dispute:

* That William's family traveled separately from him on another ship - while this idea is repeated in many contemporary biographies, in earlier accounts (19th century), it is mentioned that his family traveled with him.  Additionally, I include circumstantial evidence that supports that they traveled together.

* Birth & death dates and locations.  Across the internet there is a wide span of available dates and locations.  I researched as far back to the source documents that I could find and adjusted the dates & locations and documented them.

* I documented the LNAB as Claiton and sourced it.

* Documented (sourced) that he was a carpenter in his early life

by SJ Baty G2G6 Pilot (566k points)

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