A discussion of the origins of John Yearsley, immigrant to Chester County, PA.
Bearing dates 15 and 16 March 1681 William Penn granted John Simcock of Ridley (in Cheshire but later in Chester County) 5,000 acres of land in his Province of which 1,300 acres was situated in the County of Chester. John Simcock was born in Cheshire about 1630 and died in Pennsylvania in 1703. He became a notable figure in early Pennsylvania politics. On the 10th day of the 4th month (June) Ano 1701, John Simcock conveyed by deed to John Yearsley 500 acres of the aforesaid land situated in Chester County. This land is located in Thornbury Township, Chester County, PA.
The Quaker records from colonial Pennsylvania are quite clear that John Yearsley presented his Certificate of Removal to the Concord Monthly Meeting on 11 6th month (August) 1701. This letter originated in the Nantwich Meeting on 29 6th month (August) 1700. John Yearsley probably arrived in Pennsylvania at Upland (now the City of Chester) and most likely in the spring of 1701. He was accompanied by his wife Elizabeth, son John, and four daughters: Ann, Elizabeth, Hannah and Martha. John died in February/March 1707/8 and Elizabeth died in March 1727/8. There is no record of their age at death.
The marriage license granted by the Archdeaconry of Chester in the Diocese of Chester for John Yearsley, of Midlewich, Skinner, and Elizabeth Simcock, of same, Spinster, was dated 21 August 1676. Bondsman was Samuel Harrison. That gave me a reference date to search the marriage in the Middlewich parish records.
The Family History Library has the records of the Parish Accounts of St Michael and All Angels in Middlewich on microfilm. FHL microfilm #2106064 contains the baptisms, marriages and burials. The Bishop’s Transcripts are contained in FHL film #1736834. A perusal of all the records showed the marriage of John Yearsley to Elizabeth Simcock on 7 Sep 1676. Unfortunately, the records of the Church during the English Civil War have apparently been lost to history. There is no record of the birth of John Yearsley (lets say about 1651) nor Elizabeth Simcock (lets say about 1653 based on the discussion of her father’s will below). Births of their children, Mary (1677), Ann (1679), Elizabeth (1681), John (1684), Sarah (1685/6), and John (1687) are recorded. Also recorded is the death of the first son John (1684) and daughter Sarah (1686). John Yearsley is listed as a churchwarden of the parish as late as 1685.
Knowing that daughter Mary did not arrive in America and knowing that John and Elizabeth had converted to Quakerism, I searched the Quaker Books of Births and Deaths. There I found the birth of a second daughter Sarah (1690) as well as her death (1690), the death of Mary (1696), and the birth of Hannah (1693) and Martha (1696). From these records I have concluded that John and Elizabeth became Quakers after 1687 and before 1690. They conceived two sons and 7 daughters for which records exist.
There are additional Middlewich Church record entries of births and deaths for other Simcocks and Yearsleys. George Simcock (1654/5) (brother to Elizabeth) was born to George and Mary Simcock. He probably died in 1680. The burials of George Simcock (1673) and Mary Simcock widow (1685) are listed. The following children were born to an Edward Yearsley and Ann: William (1661/2), Robert (1665), and Jonathan (1670/1). Edward Yearsley died in 1681. There are records of burials including Ann Yeasley widow, Ralph Yeasly of Newton and Robert, son of Widow Yeasley of Newton (all in 1710). There are marriages entered for William Yearsley and Sara Aston (1685) and Raphe Yearsley and Mary Garrett (1686).
From these dates and church records, I then focused on wills available in Cheshire. Fortunately, Elizabeth Simcock’s parents each left a will, George in 1673 and Mary in 1685. George Simcock gave to John Yearsley the sum of 5 shillings and to Edward Yearsley the sum of two shillings six pence. George’s three named children were directed to receive their monies at age 21 inferring to me that none of his children are yet of age. Mary Simcock identifies her daughter Elizabeth as the wife of John Yeardsley, skinner, and her grandchildren, Mary, Anne and Elizabeth.
Edward Yearsley of Newton near Middlewich left a will identifying his sons John, Raphe, William, Robert and Jonathan and daughter Elizabeth. While his wife is not mentioned by name in the will, she is appointed Executrix and is identified as Anna Yearsley when the will is proven.
So in trying to reconstruct the Yearsley and Simcock families, there is no doubt that George Simcock and Mary are the parents of Elizabeth Simcock who married John Yearsley and emigrated to Pennsylvania. Less clear is the parentage of John Yearsley. Based on the available documents it appears Edward Yearsley and Ann are probably John’s parents. John Yearsley was probably born in Newton (Middlewich) in say 1651 and appears to be the oldest male child of Edward and Ann Yearsley. Edward Yearsley died in 1681. John Yearsley was probably about 57 years of age at death and Elizabeth (Simcock) Yearsley lived to about 75 years of age.