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William Biddle (bef. 1633 - 1711)

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William Biddle
Born before in Worcester, Worcestershire, Englandmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 17 Feb 1666 in London, Englandmap
Descendants descendants
Died in Mansfield, Burlington, New Jerseymap
Profile last modified 22 Jul 2019 | Created 17 May 2014
This page has been accessed 1,077 times.


William was a Friend (Quaker)

WILLIAM BIDDLE, the original emigrant and the progenitor of most of the name now living in this country, came to New Jersey from London, England, about 1681. No record of the place or date of his birth appears to be now in the possession o: any of his descendants. It is supposed he was born about 1630.

In a paper left by his great-great-grandson, Marks John Biddle, of Reading, PA., containing some account of the family, he is said to have been a Major in Cromwell's army. Be that as it may, it is certain that he became a member of the Society of Friends before 1660, since in that year he, with other members of the Society, was arrested and committed to Newgate prison for violating the laws by ‘which dissenters from the established church were then forbidden, under heavy penalties, to assemble for worship.

In his marriage certificate, dated London, 12 mo. 7, 1665, and in the original Deed of William Penn, Gawen Lawrie and Nicholas Lucas, dated London, 1676, and in the others which follow, he is variously described as Cordwinder, Cordwainer, and Shoemaker. In following this very useful but not aristocratic calling he was in good company, since a majority of the early emigrants from England to this country had equally humble occupations—which is nowise to their discredit, since they generally showed themselves, as he did, to be men of strong character, sterling virtue and good attainments.[1]

He is said to have:

immigrated to Barbadoes in 1680, then to New Jersey in 1681 aboard the ship "John and Sarah." His address in London was on Bishopsgate St. and he was a Shoemaker. William was born in Birlingham, Co. Worcester, England in 1634. At the age of 16 he was apprenticed to Thomas Biddle of London for a period of 7 years. His apprentice papers are as follows: "William Biddle the sonne of Edward Biddle of Burlingham in the Countie of Wigornia yoman bound to Thomas Biddle citizen & cordwainer of London to serve from the date hereof 7 years. Date ye 18th daie of July 1650." Presumably, the 16-year-old William lived with his master Thomas and his wife Hester in their home during his seven years apprenticeship. The degree of their relationship has been impossible to determine, but it was obviously under their influence that William became a member of the proscribed religious Society of Friends, and all three were detained accordinly in London's Newgate Prison in 1660-61. The "Register of Marriages" of London and Middlesex Quarterly Meeting of Friends, contains the following marriage certificate: "William Biddle of Bishoppsgate without London Cordwinder the seaventh Day of the Twelfth month in the yeare 1665 before an Assembly of the people of God called Quakers in the publicke meeting place in Westbury street in or neare Spittle Feilds tooke Sarah Kempe of Bishoppsgate street aforesaid widdow to be his wife and the said Sarah Kempe did then take the said William Biddle to be her husband each promiseing to be faithfull one to the other as husband and wife soe long as they should live in the presence of Thomas Biddle/Roger Bickerstaffe/John Oakely/Tho: Lawrence/Tho: Taylor/Wm Johnson/James Wasse/Geo: Ireland"[2]

Although William had purchased the land ("one hundredth part of West New Jersey"[3]) on the eastern bank of the Delaware from William Penn in 1676...

About the year 1700 a controversy arose between William Penn and William Biddle in regard to the possession of the island opposite Mount Hope. The commencement of the dispute appears to have been a claim which Penn made upon William Biddle for three hundred acres of land on Raneoetts Creek, which William Biddle had sold to, Richard Baynum. Penn asserted that he had purchased the same of Baynum, but for some reason he could not make a good title to it... The dispute was ultimately settled in favor of William Biddle. [4]

William Biddle was active in public affairs from the period of his arrival in New Jersey to his death in 1712.[5]

William Biddle Sr.'s profession of shoemaker should not lead 21st Century researchers of the Biddle family to conclude that he or his relatives were necessarily poor or even lower-middle class artisans. In fact, the Biddle (or, Biddulph, as the name was also spelled in old texts) family took their name from the town of Biddulph (the letters "ph" were silent) in Staffordshire, England; where the family had been the chief local landowners since they arrived in England with William the Conqueror (1066 CE). William's great or great-great-grandfather, probably a younger son, moved from Staffordshire to Worcestershire about 125 years before William's time. William Biddle Sr., despite his Quaker beliefs in simplicity, was able to raise the cash to buy a very-large tract of land in West Jersey as a haven for persecuted Quakers.[6]


  1. Biddle, Henry D.. Notes on the Genealogy of the Biddle Family . Philadelphia: W.S. Fortescue and Co., 1895. pp.9-10. [ ]
  2. "The English Origins of William and Sarah Biddle of Mount Hope, Burlington County, N.J", Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine. Volume I: Arnold-Hertzel ,
  3. Biddle, Op. Cit., pp. 53-66
  4. Ibid., p. 14
  5. Ibid., p. 13
  6. See Note on William Biddle I by Robin Parriman.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with William by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with William:

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On 10 Jul 2019 at 23:38 GMT Jennifer (Merritt) Jordan wrote:

Appears this person qualifies as a Penn Fleet Passenger. You may wish to contact the Wm. Penn Project to discuss adding him to the Project. I’ve removed the Quakers Project template and replaced with Quakers Sticker for all profiles not under management by the Quakers Project.

William is 25 degrees from Lizzie Griffiths, 19 degrees from Fred Rogers and 13 degrees from Henry VIII of England on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.