William Clayton and Prudence Lankford

William Clayton (1632-1689) is our great-grandfather ten generations back. Prudence Lankford is his wife and our great-grandmother. Let’s look at their lives.

Here are the generations, like links in the family chain, at a glance:

WILLIAM → Honour m. James BrownJeremiahPatience m. Joshua HadleySimonAnn m. Thomas Lackey → Joel LeakeyAnna S. m. Thomas Gray → Margaret Nancy m. Amonet Washington WilbournWilliam HarveyElla Washington (Rae) (our grandmother)


Novel: The Reluctant Exorcist

William (1632-1689) is the one who boarded the ship Kent and arrived in New York in August 1677. Shortly afterwards, the Kent (and William) went southward to Chygoes Island, which was renamed Burlington and which is no longer an island.

One researcher says Clayton had received a 1671 patent for 500 acres in Chichester Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It is no coincidence that he was born near Chichester, Sussex, England and the name of the town in England was carried over to the New World.

Before leaving England, however, he married Prudence on Nov. 7, 1653, back in Sussex, St. Pancras Parish, near Chichester. He had all of his children there.

Settled in Chichester, Chester County Pennsylvania, William was appointed to the highest levels of government in that New World colony: He was the Justice Officer in September 1681; Presiding Justice in September 1682; Provincial Councilor in November 1682; helped to draft the Frame of Government for Pennsylvania in April 1683, which was presided over by William Penn after whom Pennsylvania was named; and a Member of the Governor’s Council in 1682/3-1684, which was often presided over by Penn, in Philadelphia. Throughout that time he also was a justice of the law court in Chester County for brief stints.

Then, on August 19, 1684 he was appointed justice of the peace for the County of Philadelphia and “attested” (sworn in) on September 12. On October 24 of that year he was the president of the Provincial Council, but only for that day. In the first month (March) 1685 he no longer appears at the Council, his name dropping out of the records. In November 1685, six men were called before the Council to be “attested” as justices for the county, but Clayton is not mentioned. In May 1686, two men are attested to be justices of the peace for the county, but Clayton is not among them.

Is he still serving as a justice or not? He was a carpenter by training, so did things get too complicated for him, as more educated men moved into positions of power? Or was he still justice of the peace, and any succeeding attestation is not recorded? Did he drop out of public life for health reasons? He died before Nov. 1, 1689, and the items on the agenda of the Council and courts increased. The best answer is that Council members had term limits, and he served his out.

In any case, William Clayton’s association with William Penn means that, yes, he was a Quaker. They believed in egalitarianism, so that’s probably why a carpenter was elevated to such high positions in the Province (now State) of Pennsylvania. In any case, he had suffered from persecution back in England, and an historian of an older generation found evidence that he spent time in jail for his faith. That was a strong motive, in addition to a land patent, to move to Pennsylvania.

Thus William was a devout man who stood firm in his faith and was courageous enough to move to the New World. He gets pride of place.

William Clayton has the right to claim he was a Co-Founder of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia.


This section depends heavily on Lt. Col. James E. Bellarts (d. 1994), The Descent of Some of Our Quaker Ancestors …, 2nd rev. ed. 1991, pp. 71-73 (his Chapter 40), where he cites the original sources, references, and storage locations of the documents.

Also Family Search (online) for Sussex County, England has a list of key dates.


Our Clayton ancestors originally come from Sussex County (see below for links to maps) and three parishes, which can get confused. Rudgwick Parish, still in Sussex, is near the border with Surry County and is different from Rumbaldwick Parish. This is important because apparently the Claytons will move further south about 25 miles in Sussex to Rumbaldwick by the time we get to the immigrant and founder, William Clayton, the subject of this chapter. That may be of interest to those who want precision. The third parish is St. Pancras.

As to the origins of the Clayton name, it should be noted here that some online researchers connect the Thomas Clayton other Clayton lines in England, specifically the one in Lancashire, in the Northwest. There was a Thomas Clayton up there around the time in question. However, no legal document or any other kind of documentation has been found that says the Thomas Clayton in the Northwest moved all the way down to Sussex in the Southeast. These researchers force this connection because the Lancashire line of Claytons may have royal lineage in their background. Our Clayton lineage does not share royal connects in the distant background, unless proof can be found.

Our lineage is likely named Clayton because the suffix –ton means town. And Clay means there was probably a rich deposit of clay in the area where they had originally lived. Medieval families often took their name from towns and features in an area: Clay Town becomes Clayton.

However, another origin of his name is possible and I believe more likely. There is also the village of Clayton, now in West Sussex (key for our Claytons). Wikipedia has a short write-up about it:

The ancient village of Clayton, situated where the main route from London to Brighton crossed an east–west track at the foot of the South Downs existed at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086, when it was called Claitune or Claitona. It was at the southern end of the parish of the same name, which covered 1,414 acres (572 ha) of mostly rural land running north (and downhill) from the summit of the South Downs. The manor of Clayton was held at that time by William de Watevile for William de Warenne [see an article about him at wikipedia], who built the nearby Lewes Castle. The church was in the possession of Lewes Priory, which had been given it by de Warenne in 1093. The manor and church in the neighbouring parish of Keymer had the same ownership.

To corroborate that excerpt, the Sussex Archaeological Society in its multi-volume collection, specifically vol. 16, says that the name Clatune appears in the Domesday Book, ordered by William the Conqueror and completed in 1086. The archaeological collection cross-references Clayton to Clatune in its separate Index volume.

According to vol. 6 of the collection, the Domesday Book records that the possessor of the Clayton manor in Sussex was the wife of William de Watevill, for William de Warene.

Vol. 9 of the collection says there is a “rape” (traditional county subdivision) called Clayton in Sussex that was assessed on June 15, 1649, at £701.0.0 in value. Did the original Claytons come from there, long before Generation One (below)?

For our purposes, the simplest answer to the question about the origin of the Clayton name, and therefore the most probable one, is that many generations before Thomas Clayton (next), the family simply took the name that was already in existence in Sussex County and adopted it as their own. We should not picture the original Clayton going around the county dubbing these features: “I name thee Clayton Hill after me; I name thee Clayton Manor after me.”

Rather, the original Clayton probably came from the ancient village of Clayton or at least in that region and simply took its name to indicate where he was from; equally likely he worked for the Clayton Manor, back in the Eleventh Century, and so did his descendants. But who he really was and when he lived is factually unknown to us.

Bottom line: I conclude that the Claytons come from good yeoman stock in Sussex (now W. Sussex), without aristocratic ancestry (unless documentation turns up). There is no shame in that. In fact there is every reason to be proud of it.

Maps and Images

The documentable Claytons came from this county in England:


Sussex was eventually divided into West and East Sussex. The town of Chichester and the Parishes of Rudgwick, Rumbaldswick and St. Pancras are in West Sussex. Those are the key parishes for the Claytons.

West Sussex

The ancient village of Clayton is in West Sussex.

Go here for write-ups about Clayton Village.

Or here.

William Clayton grew up near Chichester, West Sussex, England

Chichester is a cathedral town. Its cathedral has been standing for 900 years. Quakers did not value such high church ways. But William Clayton and Prudence Lankford and their daughter Honour Clayton (all three our direct line) would have seen the cathedral many times.

William Clayton would have been about 18 years old in 1650 when this cathedral looked like this.

This brand of high-level, official Christianity represented too much “heathenism” and was too hierarchical for the Quakers and William Clayton.

This is the cathedral today.


William Clayton

He was born about 1632 in the Parish of Rumbaldswick, near Chichester, Sussex, and christened Dec. 9, 1632. His intent to marry was presented in Boxgrove Parish, Oct. 19, 1653; he married Prudence Nov. 7, 1653, St. Pancras Parish, near Chichester. Prudence was the daughter of William and was probably from St. Peter’s the Less, in Surry County, which borders Sussex County to the north.

He died before Nov. 1, 1689, when a bond was initiated to take care of his probate, in Chester County, Pennsylvania. It names his wife Prudence and eldest son William Clayton; he is appointed administrator of his father’s estate, who died intestate (no will).

Prudence Lankford

So far I have not been able to find when and where Prudence died. If she died in her house where she lived for years, then her son took care of the probate without notifying the court. If she died with one of her children, then he or she took care of matters.


All of them were born in England.

1. WILLIAM (1655-1727)
2. PRUDENCE (1657-c. 1728)
3. JOSEPH (1659-in or after 1700)
4. ELIZABETH (1660)

5. HONOUR (1662-1730/1): She is our direct line, so see her own post.

6. MARY (1665-1726)
7. ELIZABETH (1665)
8. HANNAH (1667)

1. William

He was born 1655, 3mo, 11th day, in the parish of Pancras, “without” (outside) the East Gate of the City of Chichester, Sussex, England. He married Elizabeth (last name unknown), one researcher says Bezar (Bezer / Beasor / etc.). He died before his will was probated, Feb. 22, 1727/8.

More about him:

He was a carpenter, like his father (his grandfather was a lumber dealer). He was named in his grandfather’s will, back in Sussex County, England.

Please the Records of William Clayton, Jr., and Elizabeth Beazer.

2. Prudence

She was born 1657, 8th mo, 20th day, in the Parish of Rumbaldswick, Sussex, England. She married Henry Reynolds on 1678, 11 mo, 10th day at the Burlington Monthly Meeting, New Jersey. He died 1724, 8th mo, 7th day, in Chichester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. She died about 1728.

More about her:

“Prudence Clayton, the daughter of William Clayton & of Prudence, 20th October 1657. His wife [sic] was Born in the Parish of Rumbaldsweek In the county of Sussex the 20th day of the 8th month called October 1657.”

She was named in her grandfather William’s will, back in Sussex, England.

Please read about the accusation of murder against Henry Reynolds.

Also see The Records of Henry Reynolds and Prudence Clayton;

3. Joseph

He was born 1659, 12th mo, 12th day, Parish of Rumbaldswick. He supposedly married Elizabeth Balzer on 1682, 2nd mo. 5th day. Other research does not show he was married.

Please see the Records of Joseph Clayton. He’s difficult to pin down.

4. Elizabeth

She was born in 1660, but died in infancy and was buried in Rumbaldswick Yard, Sussex, England.

5. Honour: She is our direct line, so see her own post.

She was born 1662, 1st mo, 29th day. She married James Brown 1679, 6th mo, 8th day, Burlington monthly meeting. James was born 1656, 3rd mo, 27th day, back in England. He died 1715/6, 2nd mo. 1st day, Chester County, Pennsylvania

See also James Brown’s huge debt

6. Mary

She was a twin to Elizabeth and was born 1665, 6th mo, 29th day In the Parish of Rumbaldswick, Sussex, England. She and John Beals proposed to the Friends Church a marriage, 1682, 8th mo., 2nd day at Chester Monthly Meeting, in Chester County. Then they proposed to the church a marriage on 1682, 11th mo., 1 day. The church gave them the go ahead. She died before 1726 in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He died before his will was proved on 1726, 10th mo, 7th day, Nottingham Twp., Chester County.

Go here for the records:

Records of John Beales, Chester County, PA.

7. Elizabeth

She was a twin to Mary and was born 1665, 6th mo, and 29th day in the Parish of Rumbaldswick, Sussex, England. But she died in infancy, 1665, 7th mo, and 30th day.

8. Hannah

She was born 1667, 10th mo, 12th day, in the Parish of Pancras, “without” (outside) the East Gate of the City of Chichester, Sussex, England. She died in infancy 1668, 6th mo, 12th day and was buried the next day, in Michael Lighten’s Ground near Chichester.


Historian Joseph Besse (c. 1683-1757) summarizes the persecution of Quakers throughout England, but here he records what happened in Sussex, 1663:

On the 7th day of the month called February of the same year [1663], Nicholas Rickman, Edward Hamper, William Turner, Tristram Martin, and Henry Woolyer, with John Snafold, William Clayton, Richard Newman, 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 Horhsam Goal [jail]; at the following sessions at Petworth, Nicholas Rickman, William Turner, and Tristam Martin fine 6. Each, for second Offence in meeting together, and were confined to the same House of Correction for six months; as was John Snafold upon the first Offence for three months. Edward Hamper, Richard Newman and Henry Woolyer were severally fined at the same Sessions. It was observed that the Justice who committed these persons to Prison, while he seemed earnest in such Prosecutions, had several Casualties that befell him: Once he was very nearly drowning and at another time broke his shoulder by a Fall. These Accidents the Sufferers looked on as providential Cautions and Warnings to him; but he nevertheless continued in his persecuting till removed by Death about two Years later. (p. 714)

We are now in a position to look at William’s move to Pennsylvania.


William came to the province of Pennsylvania on the ship Kent, between August 4 and 16, 1677. His family came later (though one researcher says they all went together). It had first landed in New York and then went south to New Jersey and Delaware. However, this ship may be a later model, but at least it gives an idea what things were like.

Transcription Begins:

The next known ship to carry colonists to West New Jersey was the Kent. Gregory Marlow, captain, which landed in London 19 March to 31 March 1677. There followed loadings for other ports, but she sailed before May. . . . The Kent sailed first to New York, arriving 16 August 12 or 1 August [sic], then after a short stay, sailed across the bay to Perth Amboy, after which she sailed south to the Delaware, landing first at the mouth of Raccoon Creek, where she is said to have disembarked 230 passengers of a total of 270. She then moved on to Chygoes Island, now Burlington [NJ]. Other histories state that she landed at Raccoon Creek after an early June halt at New Castle [DE], then to Burlington on 23 June. However, the arrival time in New York is known from the minutes from the New York government, with which the commissioners (aboard the Kent) met during their stay there. The Yorkshire purchasers settled the first tenth, from Assinpunk to Raccoons. The London purchasers settled the second tenth from Raccoons from Timber Creek. Those known or who were thought to have been aboard the Kent were:

Benjamin Acton
[John Allin] [(Jane Allin)]
Edward Bradway, wife Mary, children: William, Mary, Susannah; servants: John Allin, Thomas Buckol William Groom . . . .
(Thomas Brinton) (Thomas Buchol)
William Clayton
John Cripps
Richard Davis or Davies, loaded 22 March
Morgan Drewitt, loaded 24 March
William Emley or Emlen
Thomas Eves
Thomas Foulke
Thomas Farnsworth
(William Groom)
Jonathan Habbuck, loaded 31 March
Thomas Harding
Joseph Holmely
William Hibbs or Hebes
Henry Jennings
John Kinsey (actually came on Greyhound, loading after Kent left)
Samuel Lovett
____ Marshal, a carpenter
Thomas Nester
Thomas Olive, loaded 23 March
William Peachey
John Penton or Penford
William Perkins, died aboard, and family
Robert Powell
Christopher Saunders
Benjamin Scott
Robert Stacey
Robert Wade, loaded 13 March . . . .
(Christopher White, servants: Jane Allin and Thomas Brinton) . . . .
Daniel Wills
John Wilkinson, died aboard
Jonathan Woodhouse, loaded 22 March
William Woodmanson or Woodmancy and family
John Woolston

Transcription ends.

It should be noted that many passengers alleged to have been aboard were from Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, and other northern counties. They probably loaded at a northern port, perhaps Hull or Liverpool, before the Kent arrived at London, which is why they do not appear at the London loadings.

For the record, John Cripps, Thomas Olive, Thomas Harding, William Peachey, and Daniel Wills will sign William Clayton’s daughter Honor’s marriage record, August 8, 1679. We’re tracking the right family.

Life on a ship at that time was uncomfortable by our standards. It could take months to cross the Atlantic.

William landed and then lived up in Burlington, Chygoes Is., which is no longer an island. After about two years, William and Prudence Clayton settled around Chester. William owned a small place up in Philadelphia, so he could sit on the provincial Council, which met there. He is about to become, officially, a co-founder of the province (now state) of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia.


Will Clayton served in very highest capacities in the provincial government of Pennsylvania. Being a co-founder does not mean he was the first one there; rather, he ordered the new government with his fellow councilors.

Go here for a complete record of his service: William Clayton’s Records

His Selection for the Council

This is the affirmation that nine men signed, so they could be on the Council. The word y’e in this context means the and was pronounced as the, not yee.

Transcription begins:

Whereas Wee whose Hands and Seals are Hereunto sett, chosen by Wm. Markham, Esq., (agent to Wm. Penn, Esq., Proprietor of the Province of Pensilvania) to be of the Councill for y’e s’d province doe hereby bind our selves by our hand and Seales that wee neither act nor advise nor consent unto any thing that shall not be according to our own Consciences the best for y’e true and well Government of the s’d Province and Likewise to keep secret all y’e votes and acts of us the s’d Councill, unless such as by the general Consent of us are to be published, Dated at Upland y’e third day of August 1681

Transcription ends.

We skip a lot of council meetings and go to the writing of the charter for Pennsylvania.

Twenty-ninth Day, First Month, 1683


William Penn, Proprietary and Governor of Pennsylvania and Annexed Counties

William Clayton, along with the other councilors

Items on agenda:

Smaller vessels to pay no fees; whether offices should be carried or held for life, negative; whether the governor should choose his officers, affirmative.

Committees formed to draw up the new charter.

Committee of the Council, out of each county:

John Moll, New Castle County (DE)
Fran. Witwell, Kent County (DE)
Wm Clark, Sussex County, (DE)
Jam. Harrison, Bucks County (PA)
Wm Clayton, Chester County (PA)
Thomas Holmes, Philadelphia County (PA)

Committee of the Assembly

James Williams, New Castle
Benony (sic) Bishop, Kent
Luke Watson, Sussex
Thomas Fitchwater, Bucks County
Dennis Rochford, Chester
Thomas Winn, Speaker, Philadelphia

Second Day, Second Month, 1683


William Penn, Proprietary and Governor of Pennsylvania and Annexed Counties

William Clayton, along with the names listed, below.


As we just saw he was selected to serve on the committee to form the Charter and then the Frame of Pennsylvania. The next twenty-four points are summaries, not transcriptions.

Frame of the Government

Preamble: Charles the Second grants the land of Pennsylvania to William Penn, in 1682. Penn now laws out basic rules, obligations and rights.

Imprimis: the government of the province consists of the Proprietary, Governor, and freemen, in the Provincial Council and General Assembly (hereinafter named and described), and freemen, planters and adventurers can enjoy the rights of government.
2. Three persons are chosen from every county to convene in Provincial Council: one for three years, two for two years and one for one year. Yearly elections are held in every county.
3. Term limits are described from the second section.
4. Two thirds of the whole shall make a quorum.
5. The Governor and Provincial Council proposes bills to be considered in the Assembly.
6. The Governor and Provincial Council take due diligence to ensure the laws are executed.
7. The Governor and Provincial Council have the care of the peace and safety of the province and territories.
8. The Governor and Provincial Council create order in the province with buildings and roads.
9. The Governor and Provincial Council has the power to inspect the public treasury at all times.
10. The Governor and Provincial Council have the care to erect public schools and reward science and learning.
11. One third of the Provincial Council residing with the Governor shall manage the province and its treasury, its peace and justice, and improvements.
12. The Governor or his deputy presides over the Provincial Council, and cannot perform any public act of state without the consent of the Provincial Council.
13. The Governor and Provincial Council choose six wise and virtuous and capable men from each county to serve in the Assembly, which shall meet on the tenth day of the third month, unless the Governor or Provincial Council shall convene the Assembly.
14. The enacted laws shall be published.
15. The number of the members of the Provincial Council and Assembly may be increased when the population increases.
16. The Provincial Council can nominate various authorities, like judges, treasurers and masters of the rolls.
17. The Assembly shall continue to meet as long as they think necessary to pass the bills proposed to them, impeach criminals, and so on.
18. Ballots are to be used in electing members of the Provincial Council and Assembly and enacting laws.
19. If the Proprietary or Governor is a minor, and no guardian or commissioner is appointed in writing, then the Provincial Council can appoint guardians or commissioners, not to exceed three.
20. Any business that falls on the first day of the week, or the Lord’s Day, shall be deferred or postponed until the next day.
21. If an alien decease before his papers are regularized, then his rights devolve to his wife and children.
22. The Governor permits freemen to hunt and fowl and fish, at their liberty.
23. The Governor grants to all the inhabitants of the province and territory the ownership of their land.
24. The Governor shall not do anything that infringes on this Charter.

William Penn

This Charter was read and received in Philadelphia, April 2, 1683.

Members of the Provincial Council Present:

William Markham
John Moll
William Haige
Christopher Taylor
John Simcock
William Clayton
Francis Whitwell
Thomas Holme
William Clark
William Biles
James Harrison
John Richardson
Philip Thomas Lenmar, Secretary for Governor
Richard Ingelo, Clerk of Council


I have skipped numerous records (the post would be too long) when William sat on the Council.


William Clayton died before Nov. 1, 1689, when his probate was initiated. The first document is the administrative bond that William Clayton Jr. received from the court and which his mother Prudence signed over to him in a now lost handwritten document.


The bond is dated Nov. 1, 1689. It legally proves that William Clayton Jr. is his oldest son (not our direct line) and Prudence Clayton is his wife (our direct line).

I depended heavily on James E. Bellarts’s excellent transcription in his A Genealogy of the Clayton, Reynolds, Beals, Browns and Descended and Related Lines: “The Quaker Yeomen,” Portland, OR: published privately, 1973, pp. 27-28. I differ with him only on very few points, such as the year 1690, which he misread as “Ibgo” (the clerk always spelled out the numbers, except in that one instance).

Don’t fret about alternate spellings like Claytton, etc. It’s what clerks did back then.

Transcription begins:

Wm Claytton
Wm Claytton his father’s estate


John Blackwell, Esq. Governor of the province of Pennsylvania, under the honorable William Penn, Lord Proprietary and Chief Governor of the same, to all whom these presents shall come,

Sendeth greetings

Whereas William Claytton of Chichester in the county of Chester in the said province, yeoman, hath and is known to me that hee is the eldest son to William Claytton of the said place, carpenter, deceased; and that his said father dyed Intestate, & by a writing made in the hand of Prudence Claytton his mother, hee hath instructed me that she is contented if her said son Wm. Claytton do administer any estate of her husband; and therefore the said Wm Claytton did [crave?] administration upon the estate of the said Wm Claytton his father, deceased; and I having caused search the office of Register General and finding no will therein exhibited nor proven nor any administration granted unto any other person nor no caveat entered in the said office —–

And now know ye therefore that I doo by these presents give and commit unto the said Wm. Claytton full power and lawful authority will and truly according to Law to administer upon and to take into his custodie and possession all and singular the goods, rights and credits in any manner of ways to the said Wm. Claytton, deceased, in his lifetime and at the time of his decease, belonging, lying, being, and remaining within this province and Counties annexed. Hereby impowering the said Wm. Claytton to ask, levie, receive and sue for and recover all the Credits of the said deceased;

Hee the said Wm. Claytton, having given bond with good and sufficient Securitie in the sum of five hundred pounds, lawful money in and of the said province, not onlie to make and exhibit into the said office of Philadelphia a full, perfect, just and true inventory and conscionable apprizement of all and singular the said goods, rights and credits of the said deceased within the said province aforesaid and Counties annexed, from time to time, as the same shall come to his knowledge, which is to be delivered by Indenture for so much as concerns this province at or before the first day of the ninth month, except ensuing the date thereof; And the debts owing by the said deceased in that behalf, at the time of his decease, according to Law, in that behalf well and truly to pay, as right is, as far as the estate of the deceased can extend; But also and plain and true calculated Accompt to render, upon his solid attestation and declaration of his doings of the s’d administration, on or before the first —– day of the eighth mo’th, 1690 or whensoever, after hee shall be lawfullie called thereunto by the Register General for the time being; saving all ways & unto everie one (particularly to [answer?] said Prudence Claytton, relict of the said deceased, her) their right; And to save harmless and forever indemnify the said office and officers thereof from all persons whatsoever by reason of the said administration;

Dated at the office of Register General for Probat — of wills and granting administrations for the province of Pennsylvania and the counties annexed att Philadelphia aforesaid — the first —- day of the eighth mo’th in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred eighty nyne, under the hand of the pro-reg’ter Gen’all and seal of the said office

Teste Pat. Robinson Reg’ter Gen’all

Transcription ends.


This clerk’s handwriting is very idiosyncratic (his own style) and very difficult to read. In the column amounts, the original does not have 0’s, but they have been inserted for clarity.

We get to see what daily life was like for William Clayton when he was at home.

Transcription begins:

Inventories of the estate of William Clayton, Senior, of Chichester in the County of Chester in the Province of Pennsylvania in America, Carpenter, deceased; as it was shown to us the Appraisers aforenamed by William Clayton, of age, same place, yeoman, this [sic] son & Administrator of this said estate; and having Letters of Administration, bear[ing] date the first day of the eighth mo. 1689, under the hand of the Pro reg’r gen’ll and seal of the said office;

Transcription begins:

Inventories of the estate of William Clayton, Senior, of Chichester in the County of Chester in the Province of Pennsylvania in America, Carpenter, deceased; as it was shown to us the Appraisers aforenamed by William Clayton, of age, same place, yeoman, this [sic] son & Administrator of this said estate; and having Letters of Administration, bear[ing] date the first day of the eighth mo. 1689, under the hand of the Pro reg’r gen’ll and seal of the said office;

…………………………………………….…………… £.S.D ….. £.S.D

To ___ wearing aparrell …………..…….…………. 0.8.0*
To 4 pair of spoons …………………………………… 0.3.10
To Table-linning ………………..…………….…….…. 0.1.5
To one Lott Curtains [Containers?] & ballants [sic] …. 0.16.0
To the Best feather-bedds & bedding ……………… 0.5.0
To 2 old feather-bedds & bedding …………………. 0.6.0
To 2 pair of Blanketts & an old feather-bedd ……… 0.3.0
To one copper-frying pann, Chassing? dish &c ……. 0.1.2
To one warming pann .………………………………….… 0.8.0
To 53 ft [ell?]** Brass at 2 ½ per ft. ……….……….. 0.5.6
………………………………………………………………….…………… 0.34.7
To 18 ft. old Bell? Brass at 10 d. per ft ………..…….. 0.15.0
To 30 ft. pewter att 16 d. per ft …..……………………. 2.0.0
To one Iron pott ……………………………………………. 0.0.10
To 50 ft. of Iron Ressell? at 6 d. per ft ……………… 0.1.5
To one Lamp, 2 old candlesticks, one old stool}
To [gap] one old p? Bellows} ………………………….. 0.0.5
To 43 ft. of other Iron at 6 d. per ft. ………………… 1.1.6
To one steel? whipp-sane? ………………………..…… 2.0.0
To one Long Cross-Cutt saw & 4 other saws …..… 1.5.0
To 4 falling [sic] axes & one broad axe ….…….….. 0.15.0
…………………………………………..……………………………… 9.16.6
Transported ……………………………..…………………….. 44.3.6

[New Page]

…………………………………………………………………… [Page torn]
To Transported from the other page ……………….. [Page torn]
To other Carpenter’s tooles ………….………………… [Page torn]
To 2 dozen of gem_ens ……………………..………….. [Page torn]
To other odd Irons ………………………………….……. [Page torn]
To one Cow-bell …………………………………………… 0.4.0
To 2 great and one small chests …………………….. 0.1.0
To one pair of sheep shears _____ ………………. 0.0.6
To one old Trunk …………………………………….…… 0.0.?
To one Looking-glass ……………………………..……. 0.5.0
To a Small Bible and other Bookes …………………. 0.10.0
……………………………………………….…………..………………….. 5.9.6
To 5 old ________ other Lumber __ household goods … 0.2.10
To one old Sadle & bridle & 2 old press? collars …… 0.8.0
To one pitch-prong & Iron spades ………………………. 0.3.0
To horses _hi_h hee? & G [I] had h_ halves h_s _2_s? … 0.8.0
To ___ half? of And Stock of boares …………………… 0.10.0
To 7 hoggs & 5 Little Shoates …………………………….. 0.0.5
To 17 Yews and Lambs …………………………………….… 0.7.0
To Twenty Thousand pype Staves ……………………… [page torn]
…………………………………………………..….…………………………….. 54.11
To 50 acres Land fronting Delaware river}
With all its Improvements} ………………………………….. 80.0.0
To one small Lott Lying in Philadelphia ………………… 3.0.0
To debts due to the deceased …………………………….… 37.0.0
To one spitt & hammer 3’s? To one ___ & Brass____ ..… 4 ….. 7
To house _____ & 6’s?; To 3 doz. Bell___ttall buttons…. 2.6 ……. 7
To one old malt-mill 10 S? To more debts ….…… 3.17 ……….. 4.7
……………………………………………………….……………………… ?75.1.0
Sum totall ………………………………………………………………………. £?78.5***

Appraised this Tenth day of 8th mo. 1689 by us

Robert Pyle
Philip Roman

Transcription ends.

* It appears at first as though all the amounts start under the English Pound column, not the Shilling, but that would make the items exorbitant, especially when one lot of wearing apparel, for example, would exceed a lot of land. Clearly, the clerk was not careful in his columns, so most of the items have been put under Shillings and D. However, if you want to move them over to the left by one column, under the Pound, then that is possible, to judge from the original page format.

** The ell is about 45 inches, or it varied. However, we should probably read it as an abbreviation of the double ee in feet, not ell. So ft. has been used to transcribe the clerk’s abbreviation.

*** The first digit is mostly missing due to a hole in the paper or bad copying, but what remains appears to make it a 4.


The documentable Claytons have been tracked as far back as around 1500 at the birth of Thomas in Sussex County in the southeast of England. So far no document or other proof has turned up that says he was related to the Lancashire Claytons in the Northwest, who may or may not have royal lineage.

It’s best to see our Claytons as coming from common stock.

The name Clayton simply means Clay Town, indicating there was a rich clay deposit in the region. On the other hand, the original Clayton, whoever he was and whenever he lived, probably took this name because he was associated or lived near or worked at Clayton, Clayton Hill or worked on the property around Clayton Manor, all in Sussex County, in the Medieval Age.

With that background we can now focus on William Clayton, the subject of this chapter.

The Friends of Truth or Friends or Society of Friends were called Quakers because they said humans need to tremble before the Word and the Lord. They avoided theological controversies and valued the Inner Light. They practiced the simplicity of their faith; they streamlined Christianity. They were the Reformers of the Reformers because the Church of England was sold out to the world and too hierarchical, as they believed. Traditional Christians were compromised heathens.

William Clayton accepted these beliefs. He was “convinced” or converted. Naturally the Church of England reacted against this criticism, not permitting religious freedom. William Clayton was persecuted for his new faith and spent time in jail. Eventually he was offered land in the New World. So, presumably, because of the land and persecution, he decided to go for it – to move away towards a new life in the New World.

He boarded the ship Kent, which landed first in New York in August 1677. A short time later, its passengers disembarked on the New Jersey shore, on the Delaware R. (inland, not on the Atlantic). The Claytons lived in Burlington, where Honour got married to James Brown, Aug. 8, 1679. Shortly afterwards, the Claytons moved to Chichester Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. On the other hand, they may have moved to Chester County, and then Honour and James got married. The chronology is not clear to me.

William Clayton and family, settling down in Chichester, rose quickly among the ranks, even though he was a mere carpenter. He was not selected to join the Assembly, which had lots of men and submitted to the Council. Rather, he was selected by William Markham, acting Governor for William Penn, to be part of the Council, led by Penn, Proprietor and Governor of Pennsylvania. William Clayton knew and worked with Penn.

How did William get on the Council? The Quakers believed in egalitarianism (William owned no slaves, though some Quakers did early on until it was banned among them in the Eighteenth Century). A common carpenter was seen as an equal, but, I presume, only up to a point.

But this question still needs to be asked: how did William himself get on the Council, while others did not? I don’t know for sure. But he gives me the impression, from all the records, that he was a righteous man who had lots of integrity. He also suffered real persecution, and Penn took note of that, for Penn had a house in Sussex County, England. Clayton stayed out of the law courts as a plaintiff or defendant; that is, he was not sued, nor did he sue. He was a justice for a few years in the same courts. As far as the probate records show, people owed him £37; he did not owe them. His wife Prudence, her character and name matching up, seemed to be a woman of equal integrity; she had to testify that her son-in-law, Henry Reynolds, did not leave a mark on the servant girl who died. She had to dress the body.

All of this adds up to the assessment that he must have stood out from the crowd. I see him as speaking few words, so conflicts with neighbors were minimal. He was quietly pious and genuinely godly.

Mr. Markham and Mr. Penn recognized his character and capabilities, so they promoted him.

Finally, William’s Inventory reveals that he owned carpenter tools, not surprisingly, but he also had some animals, so he could take dairy and meat or use them for transportation: Horses, sheep, yews, lambs, shoats, hogs, boars. He owned fifty acres fronting the Delaware R. And he had one small lot, with improvements, in Philadelphia, because that’s where the Provincial Council met. He was not involved in numerous land sales, as many neighbors were or even his son-in-law James Brown was. Instead, William seemed satisfied with what he had. He owned a small Bible and some books. So he could read – unusual for a carpenter at that time.

William Clayton was not the first to arrive in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. But he still has the right to be called a Co-Founder of those two places because he helped to organize the government of the entire province (now state) and voted on the seal for the city – an anchor.

Philadelphia’s symbol of an anchor is an accurate representation of our ancestor’s character: stable and sure.


Novel: Spiritual Warfare over a Family

Clayton Land Records in Chester County, Pennsylvania

Clayton Deed Records in New Castle County, Delaware

William Clayton’s Records

The Records of William Clayton, Jr., and Elizabeth Beazer

The Records of Henry Reynolds and Prudence Clayton

Honour Clayton and James Brown


James E. Bellart, Lt. Col. A Genealogy of the Clayton, Reynolds, Beals, Browns and Descended and Related Lines: “The Quaker Yeomen,” Portland, OR: published privately, 1973.

—, ed., the Quaker Yeomen, vol. 5, no. 3, fall 1978.

—, The Descent of Some of Our Quaker Ancestors from Adam; the Hebrews, the Egyptians; the Romans; the Irish, Scots, Saxons, and British Kings; the Normans; the Vikings and Others: Facts, Fictions Folklore and Fakelore, 2nd rev. ed., Hillsboro, OR: privately published, 1991.

Joseph Besse, 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 …, Volume 1

Carol Bryant, Abstracts of Chester County Land Records, vol. 1, 1681-1730, Westminster, MD: Family Line, 1997.

Chester County, Pennsylvania Wills, 1713-1825 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000; Original data: Chester County Wills, located at the Chester County Archives and Records Service; Abstract of wills for Chester County, 1713-1825; all located at ancestry.com.

First Court of Chester County (1683); Chester County, PA, Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by Sandra Ferguson. http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/chester/court/1stcourt.txt

Thomas Hamm, “Re: [Q-R] James Brown and Honour Clayton Info,” 16 Mar 2001.

Michael Hervey, “William Clayton,” http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=mdhervey&id=I24422; he’s the one who found the histories by Besse and Janney, so hat tip to him. Click on that link to read more excerpts.

Samuel McPherson Janney, History of the Religious Society of Friends, from Its Rise to the Year 1828. http://books.google.com/books?id=fi03AAAAMAAJ&dq

Members of the Provincial Council (1683-1788); Chester County, PA, Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by Sandra Ferguson.

Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, from the Organization to the Termination of the Proprietary Government. Published by the State, Vol. 1, Containing the Proceedings of Council from March 10, 1683 to November 27, 1700. Philadelphia: Jo. Severns & Co., 1852.

Names in Early Court Records, 1681: Chester County, Contributed for use in USGenWeb Archives by Sandra Ferguson. http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/chester/court/earlycourt.txt

Pennsylvania Archives, Pennsylvania. Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania. Dept. of Public Instruction, Pennsylvania State Library, Second Series, vol. 9 (IX).

Paul Redden, Re: [TN-Cocke] Roll Call – McKay/McCoy, Thu, 12 Feb 2004.

Records of the Courts of Chester County, 1681-1697, Published by the Colonial Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia: Patterson and White, 1910.

Donna Speer Ristenblatt, “the Kent,” http://www.ristenbatt.com/genealogy/ and http://www.ristenbatt.com/genealogy/kentshp.htm

Sam Robinson, “Behind Philadelphia Maneto: Dissecting the City Seal,” 5 Nov. 2013, Hidden City Phila, http://hiddencityphila.org/2013/11/behind-philadelphia-maneto-dissecting-the-city-seal/

Walter Lee Shepherd, ed., Passengers and Ships Prior to 1684, Publications of the Welcome Society of Philadelphia, Number 1 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1970), pp. 139-41.

“St. John the Baptist’s Church,” Wikipedia, Wikipedia.com. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_John_the_Baptist’s_Church,_Clayton (article discusses the ancient village of Clayton in W. Sussex, England)

Sussex Archaeological Collection, Relating to the History and Antiquities of the County, Sussex Archaeological Society, 25 vols. Lewes: George P. Bacon, 1866.

As to those 25 volumes, the best thing the reader can do is follow these four steps.

(1) Click here for the volumes (if this link goes dead, search the key words in it):


(2) And then click here for the Index, and (3) scroll down until you reach Clayton:


Or here is the index:


(4) Happy researching!

10 thoughts on “William Clayton and Prudence Lankford

  1. Pingback: Blog: Will Trump win the nomination? - Uncle Sam's Blog

  2. Clayton is my great grandfather as well! Thank you for sharing all of this information! I’ve been pondering a trip out to Chester County to look up documents, etc. I’m a Kansas native and had no idea of my connection to the Commonwealth until I’d lived here for ten years. I live in Harrisburg. If there’s ever something I can go research on our family please let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Nice to run across so many cousins!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amazing job. Thank you so much for your article. Willam and Prudence are my 8th great grandparents. Through their daughter Prudence CLAYTON REYNOLDS. I didn’t know Henry REYNOLDS was charged with murder. I really enjoyed your article.


  4. Just learned that William is my 9th Great-grandfather through his daughter Honour. Thank you for providing this detailed information and all of the related sources!


      • After further review and research, I have uncovered additional info. I am descended from Ann Browne – who married Robert McKay – and apparently was actually the daughter of James Browne’s brother William & his wife Ann Mercer…not the daughter of James & Honour as everyone on Ancestry claims. I think that still makes us distant cousins, though. William & Ann had a son named Mercer Brown who is mentioned in James Browne’s will.


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