In 1904 Henry F. Hepburn published an incorrect Clayton family lineage. Later, James Bellarts published an extensive account of William Clayton tying him to the Yorkshire family of the same name. Research by Col. Charles M. Hansen, Louis E. Jones and Marilyn L. Winton-Misch has shown that William Clayton, the immigrant to Pennsylvania, was not related to the Yorkshire family of that name.
The research of these historians show that William (Claiton) Clayton was descended from:
William Claiton "the younger," b. 1610 in Boxgrove, Sussex, England
William Cleton "the elder," b. 1589 in Walberton, Sussex, England
Rychard Cleton, b. before 1563 in Walberton, Sussex, England
The East Gate of Chichester by Grimm, 1782
William Claiton was born to parents William Claiton the younger and Jone (Joan) Smith in Boxgrove, Sussex, England. He married Prudence Lanckford and they had 7 children. William and Prudence suffered persecution for their Quaker beliefs and at one time, William was even imprisoned for them. They heeded William Penn's call and migrated to Pennsylvania in 1677 on the ship Kent, the same that carried William Penn's commissioners. William grew to some notoriety in the new world serving as Justice of the Court in Chester County, Pennsylvania, as a judge in Philadelphia under the Provincial Government, and also as a member of the Provincial Council. He died and was buried in Pennsylvania in 1689.
William's mother and father, William and Joan were married in Boxgrove, Sussex on the 30th of October, 1631. About 13 months later, William was born and was baptized in Boxgrove on the 9th of December 1632.
William and all of his siblings were born with the surname Claiton as was his father, William Claiton the younger.
William's grandfather, William the elder and great-grandfather Rychard were recorded using the spelling Cleton. Sometime during William's life the spelling changed to Clayton. All of William's children carried the spelling "Clayton" on their birth records and all records for him carry that spelling thereafter.
William married, on 7th of November, 1653 in St. Pancras parish, Prudence Lanckford, daughter of William Lanckford of Broughton Parish, Hampshire, England.. There is some disagreement among the authors as to the exact time (and location) of the marriage but the majority of the records and their timing suggests that the 7 November marriage in St. Pancras is the correct time and date.
William son of William Cleyton of this parish and Prudence Lanckford of peters teh lesse, daughter of William Lanckford of Broughton, Hants, married after purpose thrice published in Chichester Market 19 Oct, 26 Oct and 2 Oct [sic], by Richard Boughton esq., J.P.
William and Prudence had the following children:
i. William Clayton - b. 11 May 1655 in Pancras Parish, Sussex. In February 1684/85 he married Elizabeth Bezer. William died 22 April 1727 in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
ii. Prudence Clayton - b. 20 October 1657 in Rumboldswyke Parish, Sussex. Prudence's will is dated 17 November 1726 in Chichester, Pennsylvania. She died by April 1728.
iii. Joseph Clayton - Christened 12 September 1659 in Rumboldswyke Parish, Sussex. He married Elizabeth Balzer on the 5th of April, 1683. Joseph probably remained in England.
iv. Honor Clayton - b. 18 March 1662/1663 in Rumboldswyke Parish, Sussex. Honor was married to James Brown of Marcus Hook (Chichester, Pennsylvania) on 8 August 1679. She was still living when James made his will in 1715 in Nottingham Township, Chester County.
v. Mary Clayton - b. 29 August 1665 in Rumboldswyke Parish, Sussex. Mary was a twin of Elizabeth. Mary married John Beals.
vi. Elizabeth Clayton - b. 29 August 1665 in Rumboldswyke Parish, Sussex. Elizabeth was a twin of Mary. Sadly, Elizabeth died on 30 September 1665, aged one month.
vii. Hannah Clayton - b. 12 September 1667 in Chichester, Sussex. Sadly, Hannah died on 12 October 1668, aged one month.
In addition to the parish records found in Chichester and Rumboldswyke, records of the children's births were also recorded in the Lewes and Chichester Monthly Meeting. William and Prudence's residence is listed as Rumboldswyke.
Religion & Faith
William was a Friend (Quaker)
It is believed that William and Prudence were influenced by the teachings of George Fox and became members of the society of friends (Quakers) sometime after Fox's arrival in 1655.
The earliest record of William's, and probably Prudence's, adherence to the new faith is in 1659 when William Clayton and Richard Green were witnesses at the Quaker marriage of Thomas Cowdry and Sarah Dobbin.
In 1670, William and Prudence were witness to the brutal treatment of a fellow Quaker who was imprisoned and then died after his release due to wounds inflicted in the jail:
James Larbee for going into the high steeple house of ye City of Chichester and speaking to the priest (Speed) concerning false doctrine delivered by him: was by the magistrates of the place committed to prison into the hands of a gaol keeper (Edward Lean) where he suffered near 5 months and died within a few days after he was set free. Several bruises that he received on his body remained till the day of his death. Witnesses Wm & Prudence Clayton.
The arrest and torture of James Larbee
William also felt the direct pressure of religious persecution; after attending a Quaker meeting on 7 February 1663/1664, he was imprisoned for six months at the gaol (jail) near his home town:
Nicholas Rickman, Edward Hamper, William Turner, Tristram Martin, and Henry Woolyer, with John Snashold, William Clayton, Richard Newman, and John Baker were taken out of a Meeting at Arundel by a Company of Soldiers armed with drawn Swords and Guns, without the Presence of a Civil Magistrate, and kept at an Inn till a Justice was sent for out of the Country, who committed them to Horsham Goal [sic].
William (Claiton) Clayton Sr. migrated from England to British North America.
William sailed to the New World aboard the ship "Kent," mastered by Gregory Marlow. The ship loaded from 19 to 31 March 1677 and likely sailed before May after visiting several ports collecting approximately 270 passengers. There is a legend that, while pleasure yachting on the Thames, King Charles II came alongside the Kent and inquired who was aboard. When he was told that it was Quakers sailing to the New World he gave his blessing and let the ship pass.
The new colonists, mostly Quakers, arrived sometime between the 4th and the 12th of August 1677. The ship first landed in New York and then disembarked the remaining 230 or so passengers at Chygoes island, later Burlington. The passengers sought shelter among the already-established Swedish settlers. Seeking shelter where they may, some were lodged in the barns of the Swedes after all of the homes were full, and some "erected huts in the Indian fashion."
Travelling with Clayton on the Kent were two companies of land purchasers, one company was made up of (Quaker) friends from Yorkshire and the other, Quakers from London. Each company contracted for a large tract of land that was to be divided among its "first purchasers" (investors). Commissioners from the London company selected the spot at Chygoes Island to build a new town and after the main street was drawn out, allotments of 9 acres each were surveyed for the members of the company. The town was first called New-Bevereley, then Bridlington, and finally, Burlington. On March 1678/9, William purchased the share of Hans Oelson, one of the original grantees of Marcus Hook. He then settled there with his family.
Wiliiam's family were not listed as passengers on the Kent and most contemporary accounts claim that they came on a later ship. However, Smith makes mention of two men (share-holders) who died on the voyage and alludes that these men were accompanied by their families as were the families of the other shareholders.
John Wilkinson and William Perkins, were likewise with their families passengers, but dying on the voyage, the latter were exposed to additional hardships, which were however moderated by the care of their fellow passengers: Perkins ... in his 52nd year, he, with his wife, four children and some servants, embarked in this ship.
While the ship had about 270 passengers, less than 30 are mentioned on the loading manifests and none (except for William Perkins) are listed as traveling with their families. The mention of Perkin's family is probably only because he died and the treatment of his family by other settlers was recorded as noteworthy at the time. The reference to other families in the accounts provides compelling evidence that the passengers of the Kent included the families of these settlers and that only the heads of each family were listed on the ship's manifest.
Smith gives another clue that William's family was on board:
Some of the masters of families that came in the ship [Kent] last mentioned, and settled in that neighborhood [Burlington], were Thomas Olive, Daniel Wills, William Peachy, William Clayton, John Crips, Thomas Eves, Thomas Harding, Thomas Nositer, Thomas Fairnsworth, Morgan Drewet, William Pennton, Henry Jenings, William Hibes, Samuel Lovett, John Woolston, William Woodmancy, Christopher Saunders, and Robert Powell.
Additionally, going back over 100 years, Potts writes in 1895, "William Clayton, with his family, arrived in the ship "Kent."
By either account, his family had arrived by 1678 when their signatures were recorded in the Burlington Monthly Meeting witnessing a marriage on August 6th. William signed, "Wm. Clayton, Sr.," his son signed, "Wm. Clayton, Jun" and William's wife also signed, "Prudence Clayton."
Historical facts in dispute
William Clayton as "acting Governor"
Most contemporary biographies of William Clayton claim that he was the "acting Governor of Pennsylvania in 1684 and 1685." Strickland makes this claim on the William Clayton profile page on the website for the "Descendants of Founders of New Jersey," a hereditary association for descendants of New Jersey founders. This error is repeated on Putman's site, on Wikipedia, and elsewhere in the internet.
William Clayton was on the Pennsylvania Provincial council in 1683 and 1684 but served only for one day as the Council Chairman (President) when the Chairman was absent. He was never the Governor, Deputy Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or acting Governor.
Potts writes in 1895:
He was also active in political matters. He was a member of Governor Markham's Council, and also of that of the Proprietary [William Penn] after his arrival, and at the same time served as one of the Justices of the Court of Upland county, and subsequently for that of Chester county, presiding at the first court held in Pennsylvania, under the Proprietary government. On 8 mo. 24, 1684, he was elected President of the Provincial Council, which, for the time being, was practically the position of Governor of the Colony.
We can start to see where this myth came from. That Clayton was "acting Governor" is an exaggeration. In the same paragraph Potts even identifies that Lieutenant Governor Markham is the acting Governor in William Penn's absence. In looking at the minutes of the Provincial Council we see that William Clayton was "elected President" of the Council, but only for one day to "fill in" for the absent Council President. After, he never again served in this role. It is much more accurate to describe his political accomplishments as a Court Justice and Provincial Council Member.
Pomfret gives a more detailed explanation of Clayton's role in the early government:
The chairmanship or presidency of the Council during this period [1681 - 1701] was held principally by Thomas Lloyd, except when the Proprietor [Penn] himself or his deputy governors, Markham, Fletcher, Blackwell, or Hamilton, were in office. Thomas Holme presided briefly in 1685, and two men of the Lower Counties, William Clayton in 1683 and William Clarke in 1687. The latter men, of course, were not First Purchasers.
William Clayton as commissioner for William Penn
Putman - and most sources on the internet - incorrectly claim that Clayton was "selected with others to act a Commissioner for William Penn to go to America, to West Jersey near Pennsylvania to clear any Indian titles to land that Penn had acquired." The claims that William was a Penn commissioner have been disproved; he was not a Penn commissioner. The names of Penn's commissioners were: Thomas Olive, Daniel Wills, John Kinsey, John Penford, Joseph Helmsley, Robert Stacy, Benjamin Scott, Richard Guy, and Thomas Foulke.
The claim that William Clayton was commissioner or an advanced agent for William Penn - sent ahead to clear the titles of Indian claims - can be understood when we look at some of the histories from a century ago. Regarding William Penn's commissioners, Potts writes that William Clayton only accompanies the commissioners, not that he was one of them. In 1881, Cope writes, "William, with his family, arrived in the ship " Kent" from London, in company with certain com-missioners sent out by the proprietors..." Some overzealous genealogists may have embellished William's role somewhat. In 1895, Pott's echoes Cope almost verbatim:
William Clayton, with his family, arrived in the ship "Kent" from London, in company with certain Commissioners sent out by the Proprietors of New Jersey to purchase lands from the Indians, etc...
In reading Cope's and Pott's descriptions, you can see how one might assume that Clayton was a commissioner. Neither Cope or Potts claim that Clayton was a Commissioner and indeed, there is no historical documentation to support that he was.
Most historical accounts say that William was a carpenter. We can find this in the history from The Quakers of Chichester, "William was carpenter from the suburb of Whyke." And we also see from Potts, writing in 1895 about William's will:
William Clayton, of Chichester, carpenter, died intestate and letters of administration were granted, 8 mo. 1, 1689, to his eldest son, William Clayton, yeoman, the mother consenting...
William's father, William the elder was a "timberman," and is believed by Hunt to be a wood frame builder for the mining industry.
William's son, William Jr. is also identified by Potts as a carpenter. Potts cites William Jr.'s marriage certificate recorded by the Registrar General of Pennsylvania to say that "William Clayton of Chichester, carpenter, and Elizabeth Bezer, of the same place, were married 12 mo., -----, 1682, at the house of William Hewes, of Chichester." It seems that for at least three generations, the Clayton men were carpenters or timbermen.
On board the Kent were two companies made up of "first purchaser" men from Yorkshire and London. Each member purchased shares that allocated a share of land in the new colony. William traveled with and ultimately settled with the London company in what would later be Burlington. Later, in 1678/9 he purchased 500 acres of land near Marcus Hook (Chichester) from Hans Oelsons "and settled in that place." Considering the cost of the voyage (for he and his family) and his subsequent land purchase, it can be surmised that William had some financial means available to him. We might expect that his occupation in the new world - aside from his government service - would be that of a land owner or planter.
William was one of nine men selected by William Markham, the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania who was acting as the Governor in Penn's absence, to serve on a council to establish a new government. This new government acted as a colony legislature, as a court, served as the court of appeals, and had authority over all legal matters in Salem and other towns in West Jersey until after 1683. William was the first presiding justice of the first court held at Upland, Chichester County, Pensylvania on 11 September 1681, and he and Samuel Pastorious were the first two judges of Philadelphia, and later he was a judge for Chester County.
From the minutes of official government proceedings we have a rare glimpse into some instances of William's government service work. An interesting trial occurred wherein two Swedish women settlers were accused of witchcraft. William Penn allowed the complaint to go to trial and the women were eventually freed with a promise of good behavior.
Watson, writing in the 19th century, expresses pride that Pennsylvania avoided the reputation for witch burning that will forever be synonymous with Salem. He further explains that the law was only on the Pennsylvania books because it was a carry-over statue of King James I. Dr. Arlandson suggests that by hearing the case in the council - rather than sending it to the courts - Penn intended to set a "precedence for how Quakers should investigate witchcraft or not investigate it at all."
William Clayton also served as a member of William Penn's council in 1683 and 1684 and assisted in drafting many of Pennsylvania's first laws; he appears prominently in the council minutes in both years. In 1683 he served for one day as the chairman or president of the council when the chairman was absent.
Death and Legacy
Letters of administration for William's probate were issued 1 October 1689 (8 mo. 1, 1689); William died before this date. in Chichester, Pennsylvania. It is believed that he died unexpectedly as he did not leave a will. In the absence of a written will, William's widow Prudence filed a will bond and she gave power of executor to their son, William.
↑ Hunt cites as his source: Hansen, Charles M. “The Parentage of William Clayton, Quaker Immigrant to Pennsylvania: A Correction,” The Genealogist 4 (1983): 169-73. http://fasg.org/fellows/current-fellows/charles-m-hansen/, and offers the following information: "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." As cited at: Hunt, p. 210. Accessed 29 April 2015 by SJ Baty.
↑ Christening record of William Claiton: "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J33H-95Y : 11 February 2018, William Claiton, 09 Dec 1632); citing , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 504,433. Accessed 7 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑England Marriages, 1538–1973, index, FamilySearch (accessed 10 May 2014), William Cleyton and Prudence Lanckford, 07 Nov 1653; citing Saint Pancras,Chichester,Sussex,England, reference; FHL microfilm 504431.
↑ Hunt writes that the marriage bans were only announced on 7 November 1653 but the Familysearch index for the Saint Pancras, Chichester church archives show a marriage date of 7 November. Aditionally, the Sussex Record Society reports that the bans were thrice announced in the Chichester Market on 19 October, 26 October, and 2? October, as cited at: Hunt, p. 213.
↑ Sussex Record Society, Barbican House, Lewes, Sussex, England, St. Pancras, Chichester Parish Register: 1558-1812, Tilington, notes and extracts, 49, FHL microfilm 504431.
↑ See also, Marriage of William Cleyton and Prudence Lanckford: "England Marriages, 1538–1973 ," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NV4K-63Y : 10 February 2018), William Cleyton and Prudence Lanckford, 07 Nov 1653; citing Saint Pancras,Chichester,Sussex,England, reference , index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 504,431. Accessed 7 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ Birth record of William Clayton: "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NV23-Y8R : 11 February 2018, William Clayton, 11 May 1655); citing p12, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 811,736. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ 13.013.113.213.313.4 Five of the seven children born to William and Joan were born in Rumboldswyke, Sussex. The familysearch.org citations show the location of their birth as "Rumbaldsmoot." A google search for this name returns only references to genealogy entries. The google search engine tries to correct the name spelling to Rombalds Moor or Rumba Oldsmar. Rumboldswyke Parish no longer exists and "Rumboldswyke is now part of Chichester district." It seems that a database category typo at familysearch has mis-labled Rumboldswyke. See: A Vision of Brittain Through Time. "http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/21063." Rumboldswyke Sussex. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ Birth record of Prudence Clayton: "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JQD4-QD4 : 11 February 2018, Prudence Clayton, 20 Oct 1657); citing p42, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 811,736. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ Christening record of Joseph Clayton: "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JQD4-QZR : 11 February 2018, Joseph Clayton, ); citing p42, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 811,736. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ Birth record of Honor Clayton: "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NV23-BR3 : 11 February 2018, Honor Clayton, 18 Mar 1662); citing p43, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 811,736. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ Birth record of Mary Clayton: "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JQD4-Q9F : 11 February 2018, Mary Clayton, 29 Aug 1665); citing p43, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 811,736. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ Birth record of Elizabeth Clayton: "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JSJQ-2JD : 11 February 2018, Elizabeth Clayton, 29 Aug 1665); citing p43, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 811,736. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ Birth record of Hannah Clayton: "England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JSJQ-2JV : 11 February 2018, Hannah Clayton, 12 Sep 1667); citing p44, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 811,736. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ Death record of Hannah Clayton: "England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JCKP-WQX : 10 February 2018), Hannah Clayton, burial ; citing Chichester, England, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 811,736. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty.
↑ 21.021.1 Woolley, Michael. The Quakers in Chichester 1655 - 1967. Chichester, UK: Religious Society of Friends, Chichester Meeting, 1998. 4th edition. Accessed 24 July 2018 [SJ Baty] at https://michaelwoolley.weebly.com/#.
↑ "Gaol" is another word for jail. Horsham is about 30 miles northeast of Chichester. Cited in: Besse, Joseph. A collection of the sufferings of the people called Quakers, for the testimony of a good conscience from the time of their being first distinguished by that name in the year 1650 to the time of the act commonly called the Act of toleration granted to Protestant dissenters in the first year of the reign of King William the Third and Queen Mary in the year 1689. London: L. Hindde, 1753. Volume I, p 714. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty at https://archive.org/details/collectionofsuff01bess.
↑ 24.024.1 John Cripps, Thomas Olive, Thomas Harding, William Peachey, and Daniel Wills, all passengers on the Kent would later be witnesses on the marriage certificate for William's daughter Honour. As cited at: Arlandson, Live as a Free People: William Clayton and Prudence Lanckford.
↑ William's Will Bond was number 119 and is filed in the office for wills in Philadelphia. As cited at: Putman, p. 7.
General Register Office; The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, England: Society of Friends' Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials. Records of the General Register Office, Government Social Survey Department, and Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, RG 6. Piece 1307: Monthly Meeting of Lewes and Chichester (1651-1775) Surry, Sussex, England. (Ancestry.org database online): Pg 41-44 (image 54-57 of 78, William, Prudence, Joseph, Honor, Hannah children of William and Prudence Clayton, Parish of Pancras and Rumbaldsineek [Rumboldswyke]; Francis, Henry, Mary and James Reynolds, children of William Reynolds and Margaret Exton. Parish of Pancrass.
Smith, Samuel. The history of the colony of Nova-Caesaria, or New Jersey : containing, an account of its first settlement, progressive improvements, the original and present constitution, and other events, to the year 1721. With some particulars since; and a short view of its present state. Trenton, NJ: W. S. Sharp, 1877. Accessed 8 July 2018 SJ Baty at https://archive.org/details/historyofcolonyo00smituoft.
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, pp. 265-66. Accessed 9 July 2018 SJ Baty at https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008957727.