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Mordecai Balderston


MORDECAI BALDERSTON the seventh son of John and Hannah was born on January 31, 1755. His birth was registered in the Wrightstown Monthly Meeting. Mordecai refused to take the Oath of Allegiance or to fight for the Revolution, as Quakers were prohibited from swearing any oath. Consequently, on June 15, 1778, a Proclamation was issued by the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania against Mordecai and many other persons charging that they were "knowingly & willingly aided & assisted the enemies of State & of the United States of America by having joined their Armies of Philadelphia" and demanding that they surrender themselves before the first of August or "stand and be attained for High Treason... & suffer such pains & penalties & undergo all such forfeitures as persons attained of High Treason ought to do." Mordecai did finally take the Oath of Allegiance on June 18, 1778, and the charges against him were discharged by a proclamation on June 28, 1779 when he surrendered himself to be tried for treason. (Colonial Records of PA v. 11 p. 513, PA Archives ser. 6 v 13, p. 475) Mordecai and the others on the list did not join the armies of the enemy. This seems to be a designation given by the State to those persons who had not as yet sworn to the required Oath and thus were guilty of treason by omission.

Patriotic emotions were high during 1778 when the British occupied Philadelphia and Washington was entrenched at nearby Valley Forge. In any event, such activity, aling with his and his brothers enlisting in both Captain Kester's and Captain Lanning's colonial armies in 1782, went against Quaker principles and this period seems to be the beginning of Mordecai's problems with the Friends.

In addition, when he married Deborah Michener on February 11, 1778, they were married by a "hireling minister", which was contrary to the Rules of Discipline in the Society. The Society recognized no distinction between the clergy and the laity. Consequently. for awhile they were not admitted to Meeting. Their first child Sarah was recorded in the Philadelphia Meeting. They were later admitted to the Buckingham Monthly Meeting, but by 1786, Mordecai and his family were living in nearby Chester County. At this time they were received into the Goshen Monthly Meeting and in 1795 in the New Garden Montly Meeting in Chester County.

 The following information comes from the Shaddinger book on More Micheners in America

 January 4, 1779 Mordecai and Deborah were disowned by Buckingham Meeting on account of being married by assistance of an hireling minister.

 November 3, 1783 They appeared at Buckingham Meeting to make acknowledgement.

 September 6, 1784 They were received back into membership

 May 2, 1785 They received certificate from Buckingham Meeting to Horsham Meeting, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania with children Sarah and Hannah.

 March 29, 1789 They received certificate from Horsham Meeting to Goshen Meeting, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This move was made with members of the Michener family.

 July 9, 1790 They received certificate from Goshen Meeting back to Buckingham Meeting.

 March 2, 1795 They received certificate from Buckingham Meeting to New Garden Meeting, Chester County, Pennsylvania where they were members of West Grove Preparative Meeting with children: Sarah, Hannah, Jacob, Deborah, Mary, Mordecai and Catherine.

 August 10, 1809 They received certificate to Short Creek Meeting, Ohio with children: Mordecai, Catherine, Joseph, Jonathan and Esther. This Month's meeting was at Harrisville, Ohio, about 10 miles west of Martin's Ferry, Ohio. They died and are buried at Mount Pleasant, Ohio. His will was written in July 22, 1815 and was probated August 1, 1820 in Belmont County, Ohio.

 Children: Sarah, Jacob, Mordecai, Hannah, Isaiah, Jacob, Deborah, Mary, Mordecai, Catherine, Joseph, Jonathan, Esther.

 Source: More Micheners in America, Shaddinger, Anna, E. (1970) Bonekemper Typesetting Inc., Hatfield, PA., pp 394

 The following information comes from the book titled: Balderston Family History by Marion Balderston and Hotense B. C., Gibson

 Many other descendants of Mordecai are included in Anna E. Shaddinger's comprehensive "More Micheners in America," Bonkemper Typesetting Inc., Hatfield, PA, 1970; Mordecai's wife being Deborah Michener.

Throughout the Shaddinger book the name has been spelled "Balderson," a change made years ago by an unknown Balderston. It happened after the death of Mordecai in 1820. His will was signed Mordecai Balderston.

Many of his descendants still put the significant "t" in the name.

Source: Balderston Family History, Balderston, Marion & Gibson, Hortense B. C., (1970) page 3

Towards the end of the war, in 1782, John and Jonathon both enlisted in Captain Lanning's Company, largely drawn from Solebury. But no one knows if they were "read out" of Meeting or if they saw action. The Revolution was almost over.

Source: Balderston Family History, Balderston, Marion & Gibson, Hortense B. C., (1970) page 31.

Mordecai Balderston took the Oath of Allegiance to the State of Pennsylvania, being sworn before the Justice of the Peace Joseph Sackett at Wrightstown on December 14, 1778, in the middle of the war. This was recorded in the Allegiance Book of Bucks County which is in the Register of Wills office in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

 Source: Balderston Family History, Balderston, Marion & Gibson, Hortense B.C., (1970) page 40.

Do to the Quaker religious belief, apparently Mordecai had to pay some fines for not attending muster with a couple of the units of the Pennsylvania militia.


Balderston, Mordica Inactive Duty Militia Rank: _______

Lieutenancy: Bucks County. Battalion 4th

Company: Captain William Bennets Class ______

Remarks: Solebury Twp


Authority: Substitute Fine Book of George Wall Sub Lieutenant

Dated: February 2, 1779 Muster Fines: 37.10 British Pounds.

"Military Accounts: Militia," Records of the Comptroller General, at D.P.R.


Source: Pennsylvania State Archives 350 North Street Harrisburg, PA 17120-0090

Division of Archives and Manuscripts


Balderston, Mordicai Inactive Duty Militia Rank: _______

Lieutenancy: Bucks County. Battalion 3rd

Company: Captain Paul Kester Class ______

Remarks: April, May 1780


Authority: Fines List

Dated: N.D. (No date given) Muster Fines: 72.0.0 British Pounds.

Nockamixon Twp

"Military Accounts: Militia," Records of the Comptroller General, at D.P.R.


Source: Pennsylvania State Archives 350 North Street Harrisburg, PA 17120-0090

Division of Archives and Manuscripts


Balderson, Mordica Inactive Duty Militia Rank: _______

Lieutenancy: Bucks County. Battalion 3rd

Company: Captain Paul Kester Class 5,6,7,8

Remarks: Nockamixon Twp


Authority: Appeal Book

Dated: Aug. 21 1780 Muster Fines: 540.0 British Pounds.

Nockamixon Twp

"Military Accounts: Militia," Records of the Comptroller General, at D.P.R.


Source: Pennsylvania State Archives 350 North Street Harrisburg, PA 17120-0090

Division of Archives and Manuscripts


5. The Pennsylvania Militia, 1777 - 1783

The Pennsylvania Milita, properly so-called, was organized under an act of March 17, 1777, which provided for compulsory enrollment by the constables of all able bodied male whites between the ages of eighteen and fifty-three. Exemptions were extremely limited, and an estimated 60,000 men were enrolled.


For purposes of administration and drill, Companies and Battalions of militia were set up on a geographical basis similar to the arrangements already familiar with the Associators. Local militia activities were co-ordinated by a County-Lieutenant (for city of Philadelphia, a City Lieutenant), who reported to the Supreme Executive Council. Each training company was divided by lot into eight equal Classes. These classes were an effective device for rotating service and establishing quotas. As need for men arose, each class was in its turn called for two-month Tour of Active Duty. This class system made it possible to call troops in such numbers as were needed without depriving any particular district of its entire labor and protective force. Once on active duty, militiamen were reorganized into new but temporary commands, units entirely distinct from their permanent home companies. Under such a system the permanent training companies could have no campaign history, could win no battle honors.


In many instances, members of the militia gave no military service beyond occasional routine drill, and some escaped even that. Only in extreme cases was any individual militiaman required to drill with his neighbors as many as twelve times each year, and at most he was called upon to perform during the entire course of the war, two or possibly three, short tours of active duty. On the frontier, where the menace from Indians allied with the British was constant, the response to calls for militia duty was excellent, but elsewhere it was much less satisfactory. Many men listed on company rosters never drilled, and tens of thousands enrolled in the militia never experienced a single day of active duty.


Avoiding militia calls was not difficult. A man who failed to report for drill merely paid an Exercise Fine. A militiaman called for active duty who found such duty inconvenient was permitted to hire a Substitute to march and fight in his stead. Frequently no substitute was furnished, but instead a Substitute Fine was paid. Militia fines became an important source of revenue.


Frequently the term "militia" was loosely applied to the earlier Associators with resulting confusion. They were alike in that each of the two groups was composed of civilians, of men who could not reasonably be called upon for any prolonged tour of duty or for travel far from home. Such men could give but limited service and were used chiefly to garrison nearby forts, to guard prisoners, to serve in local campaigns, or temporarily to support the Continental Army. However, membership in the Associators differed greatly from membership in the militia, for, technically enrollment in the Associators was voluntary, while membership in the militia was strictly compulsory with the obligation legally defined.


Pay for military service was often long delayed. Thousands of militiamen returned from tours of active duty unpaid, bearing only a slip signed by a commanding officer. General financial confusion and the collapse of wartime currencies made prompt payment impossible, but eventually, under an act of April 1, 1784, Pennsylvania compensated such men for their active service and settled accounts with certain other public creditors by passing to them interest-bearing Certificates of the Funded Milita Debt. These certificates (bonds in modern sense) were ultimately redeemed at face value. Unfortunately, when redemption came many of the original holders had long since sold their certificates at heavy discounts.


Source: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Division of Public Records, Information Leaflet No. 3