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John Balderston

The first Balderston to come to America in 1727. In the list of apprentices in the Public Record Office in London, there is a record that John Balderston, son of John Balderston of Norwich, house carpenter, was apprenticed to John Stinyard of Norwich, worsted weaver, on January 6, 1713 or 14. The apprenticeship was for 8 years, and John gained his freedom in 1723.

John remained in England for a few years before taking the adventurous step of immigrating to the American colonies. It is not known exactly how John came to the New World; there are no ship records of his journey. However, he probably came as a "redemptioner," promising his professional services for a certain length of time to pay for his passage.

 

However he came to the colonies, about ten years after his arrival when he was freed from his debt, he married Hannah Cooper on October 21, 1737.

John could not marry Hannah unless he too became a Quaker. Since the members of the Balderston family had for a few generations been members of a dissenting faith, the Congregationalists, this was something John was fully prepared to do. He convinced the elders of Gwynedd Meeting in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania of the sincerity of his beliefs and the two were allowed to marry. Thus begins the Quaker heritage of the family.

John and Hannah settled in Bucks County Pennsylvania in the township of Upper Makefield and later in Solesbury. They prospered here and had eleven children, who in turn also prospered and had large families of their own, producing numerous descendants, many of whom still live in Bucks County area.

 

John also seems to have kept in touch with his relatives in England. John's cousin Bartholomew III, remembered John and his family in his Will in 1761. Among his many bequests, he writes " I give to the children of John Balderston in America, township of Upper Makefield, county of Bucks, province of Pennsylvania, viz., John, Jonathan, Bartholomew, Timothy, Jacob, Hannah, Isaiah, Mordecai, Sarah and Lydia 50 pounds apiece, or to as many as shall survive me... to be put in the hands of their father who I look upon (by his way of writing) to be a moral, honest, man."

 

John did prove to be a faithful Quaker. After the Colonies declared their independence from England, he refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to the Revolutionary Government as prescribed by law in 1777.

At first, his sons John, Jonathan, and Mordecai did likewise. As the time of his death in July 1778, his property was in danger of being seized by the government for his failure to take the oath. Also, there seems to have been some conflict about the Will among his children. John's third son Bartholomew filed a caveat, implying that since his father did not comply with the Act of the General Assembly to take the Oath of Allegiance, the will was not legal. However, the court ruled that since the will was written in 1773 before the Act was passed, it was legally binding. Nevertheless, his first son John was barred from acting as executor because he also refused to take the Oath of Allegiance (Abstracts of Wills, Bucks County, 1685-1785, Book 4, p. 17).

Later on, near the end of the war, in 1782, John, Jonathan, and Mordecai were listed as being members of Captain Lanning and Captain Kestor's regiments in Solesbury. The war was nearly over, so they probably were never engaged in battle, but it must have caused some conflict with the elders of the Society of Friends. The Revolutionary period was a very difficult time for the Society and its members. Quakers were of course opposed to the war because bloodshed and conflict went against their religious tenets. Nevertheless, many of the younger men were openly supportive of the cause of the colonists, and many entered into military service against the dictates of the elders. Bucks County was the scene of many historic conflicts between the British and the Continental Army, and it was a difficult for the young men to remain neutral amid such patriotic fervor.

John's wife Hannah died in 1792, leaving a Will, which mentions all of her children.

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