Richard Woodward, Senior, of Chester County, Pennsylvania

Richard and Jane Woodward Family

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There is a good possibility that Richard Woodward was a son of Edward Woodward of England. There are records of two daughters of Edward Woodward in Acton Parish in Cheshire County, England. The marriage and burial record of Hannah Woodward Eavenson are given there. Hannah Woodward was married to Thomas Eavenson (see Eavenson page). After Hannah�s death, Thomas Eavenson married Elizabeth Woodward, possibly sister of Hannah. A birth and baptism record in Acton Parish, Cheshire, England, shows "Elizabeth Woodward, daughter of Edward Woodward, was born/baptized on Nov. 17, 1653." (Ref. 1) We would like to clarify that these two daughters of Edward Woodward were much, much younger than Richard and Robert Woodward who are thought to be their brothers. This brings up a question of the residence of the Edward Woodward family in England. It seems clear they were in Acton Parish in 1653 but neither Richard nor Robert are found in Acton Parish records, indicating that if the family composition is correct, that the family did not originate in Cheshire County, England. Therefore we state unequivocally that the family was not "of Cheshire County." We wish to emphasize that as some sites have picked up Cheshire County as their origin and this likely is not true.

Richard Woodward is believed to have immigrated to America with a brother, Robert Woodward, and a sister, Elizabeth Woodward. A relationship to Elizabeth is proven as Richard Woodward was responsible for a penalty for Elizabeth in a court case in Chester County (more on Elizabeth on the Eavenson page). (Ref. 2 and 3 - both sources seem to be well researched and few inaccuracies are found. ) We particularly like the disclaimer given in Ref. 2: "Edward Woodward of acton Parish, Cheshire, England may have been the progenitor of the line of Woodwards, who first settled in Chester Co., Pennsylvania. At least, there is some evidence that suggests this as a possibility or probability. Therefore, the listing of Edward Woodward here, as the father �, is merely hypothetical and subject to further verification or proof. " And it is fairly clear that Edward was not in Acton Parish at the time of the birth of Richard and Robert.

The surname of Richard's wife Jane is not known for certain although Nayle and Nyle have been suggested, along with several others. (Richard Woodward did witness a deed in 1708 jointly with Henry Nayles so there may be a connection, but there also might be confusion with Robert Woodward's son Richard who did marry a Nayle.) Great excitement is raised every time a Richard Woodward/Jane Somebody marriage is located in England, but the problem is that Woodward was a very common surname and Richard and Jane were very, very common given names. The proof that is needed has so far not been forthcoming. The proper proof would consist of a will of this Jane's parent indicating that she was married to Richard Woodward "of Chester County, Pennsylvania" to distinguish her from the many other Janes who married Richard Woodwards in England.

  Richard Woodward
born about 1636 Cheshire, England
died 12/7/1706 Chester Co, Pa
Jane Unknown
born Unknown
died after 1714

  Married: Probably about 1669 in England

Richard Woodward born about 1673 in England; married four times (1) Esther Davis (2) Deborah Stanfield (3) Susannah Cureton (4) Martha Heald
Martha Woodward born about 1677 in England; married Joseph Baker
William Woodward died 9/17/1705 (unmarried)
Thomas Woodward married Rachel Martin
Edward Woodward married three times (1) Abigail Edge (2)Alice Smedley Allen (3) Elizabeth Taylor
Jane Woodward married Nathaniel Newlin, Jr.
Mary Woodward born 1/9/1691 Chester Co, Pa; married John Newlin, brother of Nathaniel
Sarah Woodward married Robert Chamberlain, Jr.
Joseph Woodward born Chester Co, Pa; married Elizabeth Mercer

Immigration to Pennsylvania

Richard Woodward bought land in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1688 from John Simcock (See Quaker Migration for more about migration and land purchases, and see the Chester Survey 1683 for location of Simcock land.) Simcock may have been responsible for the Woodwards' migration as he, too, lived in Acton Parish, Cheshire, England, at one time (See map of England). The Woodward land purchase is not found in the Chester County Land Records but is documented in the Chester County Court: "Att a Court held att Chester for ye County of Chester ye 3d day in ye 1st Weeke of ye 10th month 1688: ... John SYMCOCKE made over a Deed dated ye 6th day of ye 1st month 1687 for 230 acres of Land lying in Thornbury unto Richard WOODWARD by his Attorney John HODSKINS." (Records of the Courts of Chester County, Pa 1681-1696/7, page 140)(Courtesy Judy Ardine). Smith's "Atlas of Delaware County" shows this tract with this purchase date belonging to Richard Woodward. Quoting from Smith's "Atlas" the Encyclopedia of American Biography mentions that another tract is shown for Richard Woodward of 250 acres purchased February 15, 1695. Its eastern boundary was Ridley length the tract averaged slightly more than a mile, in breadth a quarter mile or more. The road laid out from Edgemont to Chester in December 1687, called Middletown Road, divided the farm of Richard Woodward almost exactly in half.

Life in Pennsylvania

It is quite possible that Richard Woodward was not a Quaker, as no Quaker records are found for him and he took an active part in public life (Quakers usually did not, as they did not believe in taking an oath of office. It was some years before the oaths were adjusted to the satisfaction of the Quakers). From court records it appears he served on petit juries and grand juries, was supervisor of Highways for Thornbury township in 1689, was constable of Upper Providence township in 1694, and in August 1706 was one of two persons appointed as overseers of the poor in Middletown.

The Woodward House is on the National Historic Register and photographs of it in 1954 can be seen at a Library of Congress American Memories Web Site. This link will take you to the Historic American Buildings Survey and you can put in a search for "Chester County, Pennsylvania" and find the Woodward House at #108. If you are interested in Chester County it is fun to page through and see how many historic photos are there. Or you can go directly to the Woodward House by typing Richard Woodward into the search box. This will bring you to a page with a link to four photos of the house (click on the camera) and also a link to some data pages. Be sure to read the data pages to understand that the photos are probably not the original house, and even if it is, it has been significantly added to, as can be seen by comparing the rooms listed in the inventory below with the size of the present day house. There is also a web site that tells the history of the house to the present day.

An 1880 photo of the house is found in "Survey of Chester County Pennsylvania Architecture" by Margaret Berwind Schiffer. This is probably much closer to the original architecture and many differences are noted over the photos above.

Will and Inventory of Richard Woodward

Richard Woodward wrote his will on September 6, 1706. The will names his children, except William Woodward who died in 1705, unmarried. His bequests to his sons Richard, Thomas and Edward are curious as he leaves them each four shillings and a pair of gloves. Since Pennsylvania law at that time dictated a minimum bequest of five shillings to a child, the pair of gloves must be there to make the bequest up to a value of five shillings. Richard died a wealthy man, so the bequest of the gloves must have held some particular significance. He had helped his older sons purchase land before he died so he left none to them in his will.

A book Chester County, Pennsylvania, Inventories 1684-1850 by Margaret Schiffer, tells us something of their lives via the inventory of Richard Woodward's estate: "...the inventory of Richard Woodward, of Middletown mentions a common house, kitchen, parlor, shed, chamber, another chamber, back kitchen, work house, and cellar. In the kitchen there were iron vessels, pot hangers, hackle, wooden vessels, earthen pots, two pot hooks, tables, stools, chairs, cards for wool and tow, two guns, fire shovel, tongs and books. In his back kitchen there was a kneading trough meal sives and lumber." It is noteworthy that Richard Woodward owned books but signed his will with his mark. Since Richard had taken on the job of overseer of the poor in Middletown August 27, 1706, and then wrote his will in December, it is probable he died of an illness and was too weak to sign his name to his will. It is also possible that he could read and not write. Knowing how to write was not particularly useful in his time period and into the mid 1800's many more people could read than could write.

More on the Family of Richard Woodward

We do know that Jane Woodward was the mother of his children as the will is not written with specific provisions for care of the wife, as it would be for a second wife. He left his plantation jointly to Jane and his son Joseph Woodward. Jane and Joseph sold the land in 1712:(from Abstracts of Chester County Land Records, Volume 1 1681-1730) Deed. "On March 1712 Jane Woodward of Middletown, widow of Richard Woodward, dec. & Joseph Woodward, youngest son of said Richard & Jane Woodward, to Daniel Cookson of Middletown, yeoman. Whereas John Worral of Middletown granted to Richard Woodward 250 acres on 15 Feb 1695... Now Jane Woodward and Joseph Woodward for 150 pounds convey the tract of land lying in Middletown bounded by Ridley Creek and land of Thomas Taylor, containing 250 acres. Signed by Jane Woodward and Joseph Woodward. Delivered in the presence of Henry Worley, John Packer and John Simcock. Recorded 10 March 1712." This evidently would have left the earlier 230 acre purchase still in the possession of Joseph.

An interesting tidbit about Jane comes from the will of her son Edward Woodward. He left "an old Bible that belonged to my mother" to his grandson Edward Woodward, son of his son Edward, deceased. So somewhere out there may be this "old Bible." It may not, however, have had family information inscribed therein as surely Jane would have entered particulars about her birth and parentage?

Another land transaction May 10, 1723 tells us more of the family of Richard Woodward and confirms son William's early death. "Whereas Jeremiah Collette, Jr. by deed dated 19 May 1703 granted to Thomas Woodward and William Woodward 500 acres. Whereas Thomas & William sold 275 acres...William Woodward soon after died...Whereas Richard Woodward, Edward Woodward, Joseph Woodward the surviving brothers of William Woodward & Jane Woodward the sister, by deed dated 11 June 1709 did release... ." The sale of 275 acres by Thomas and William Woodward is interesting as it took place on 5 May 1709 for 120 pounds. The deed however is signed only by Thomas Woodward indicating that William was indeed deceased. It was then William's heirs as listed above who released the land in William's place.

Jane Woodward survived to at least 1714, when she is mentioned jointly with her daughter Sarah at Concord Monthly Meeting. Sarah Woodward married Robert Chamberlain, Jr. on 10/27/1814 at Chester Monthly Meeting in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

It is worth noting that Martha Woodward, daughter of Richard and Jane was born in 1677 and died December 13, 1775 "aged 98 years, 11 mos, 13 days." She married Joseph Baker and we wonder if they were ancestors of the Joseph Baker who married a daughter of Eliza Woodward Frazier, descendant of Richard and Jane Woodward, over 100 years later in Jefferson County, Tennessee? When time permits we will try to follow up on this.

12/30/2009 Added a photo of the "Beehive" (Woodward House) in Chester County in 1880. It is a large file and somewhat slow to load.
8/13/2006 Added information about a Bible that belonged to Jane Woodward.
4/10/2007 Changed the context of the first two paragraphs to emphasize that Richard and Robert Woodward were not necessarily of Cheshire, England.

(1) The Woodward Family of Chester County, Pennsylvania and some of their descendants, J. Gary Woodward, Sept 1995
(2)Encyclopedia of American Biography (New Series) Vol 7, by Winfield Scott Downs (1944)
(3)Genealogy of the Woodward Family of Chester County, Pennsylvania by Lewis Woodward, M. D. (1879).