Paxson logo PAXSON FAMILY Paxson logo
copyright MJP Grundy, 2002, 2007, and including any more recent changes
the Paxson logo[1] was designed by Martha Kelso Dunning Paxson

This web site intends to make available the most comprehensive and accurate information on the descendants of the Paxson brothers who emigrated from England to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1682. In addition, various collateral lines are being added from time to time as they are prepared.

construction site painting

          We're still building . . . and refurbishing . . . and hope to continue enlarging and improving these pages for some years. NOTE: These pages look best using Safari, Firefox, or Mozilla as the browser.

          If you are in too much of a rush to read the front matter, skip down to links to the actual data, which is arranged by generation. There is an alphabetical list of all (well, really only those I know of who are no longer living) individuals born with the Paxson surname; this list of links currently includes names through the seventh generation, and most of the eighth generation. It does not include spouses, and it is not technically an index as it does not link to every mention of each individual. Try using your browser for that. My data for the sixth, seventh, and eighth generations are increasingly incomplete, the closer they get to mid-twentieth century. I am dependent on living descendants for information about more recent branches of the family. Please e mail me at .

          See the Index of Collateral lines (most of which are still under construction) . . . . There are also explanatory notes about pre-1752 dates, Quaker marriage process, and some Quaker practices.

The basic material was first published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 71, no. 3 (Sept. 1983) pp. 193-216, as "THE PAXSON BROTHERS OF COLONIAL PENNSYLVANIA: THREE GENERATIONS", By MARTHA JONET PAXSON GRUNDY.

          Since then the material has been revised, corrected, and enlarged. As always with genealogy, it is a work in progress, and I would appreciate receiving corrections and additions in order to make this the most complete source for the Paxson family that is available in one place—or at least for the first five, six, or even seven generations in the new world. Eventually I hope to complete it through the seventh generation and overflow into the eighth and even into the ninth. I do not intend to include anyone who is currently living, unless that individual specifically asks to be named. However, there is always the possibility of publishing a book that contains recent descendants, so please consider yourself invited to contact me with your own specific twig on this larger Paxson tree.

          Please send additions and corrections, preferably with citations to the original sources, to me at .

A note on the spelling of “Paxson”

          Among the passengers of the twenty-three ships that accompanied William Penn to his new colony in 1682 were four sons of James and Jane (Clerk) Paxton of Marsh Gibbon, Buckinghamshire. The parish records of St. Mary's Church there reflect the usual seventeenth-century disregard for consistency in spelling. The name appears from April 1640 to March 1678/9 as Paxon, Paxson, Packson, Packston, but most often as Paxton. In Pennsylvania, however, Friends' records show more consistency. The Woman's Monthly Meeting minutes of Middletown (Bucks County) spell the name Paxson except from 1762 through 1764, when the minutes were copied into the book by a particularly atrocious speller, and a few exceptions in the late 1790s. The Men's Monthly Meeting minutes from the beginning in 1684 to 1687 spell the family Paxton; from 1687 to 1691 the name appears Paxon, and from July 1691 on it is Paxson, the spelling which most descendants of the family have used ever since.[2]  Note that as a general rule the spelling of surnames didn't stabilize until the nineteenth century.[3] However, government documents and newspapers have continued to blithely mix Paxson, Paxton, and Paxon right down to the present time. It seems likely that anyone in the United States who spells his or her name Paxson rather than Paxton is probably descended from two of these Quaker brothers and their wives.

          One exception is Jonas Paxton who deliberately changed the spelling of his name, and his descendants have followed his example. There are apparently other exceptions, mostly from families moving to the frontier where education and standard orthography was scarce. These Paxtons then become confused or conflated with the Scotch-Irish Paxtons, causing a fair amount of grief to recent genealogists.

Numbering System

          The numbering system used herein is that of the National Genealogical Society. Generations before immigration are lettered with the last generation in the old country designated with a superscript A, their parents being superscript B, grandparents superscript C, etc. Generations in the new world are numbered, the immigrants having a superscript 1, their children having superscript 2, and so on.

          Each person born into a Paxson family is given a number, starting with the emigrant brothers (i.e. numbers 1 through 3 (poor Thomas, who died at sea, doesn't get a number since he didn't actually become an immigrant and left no descendants). The children of the eldest brother (Henry #1) are next numbered, 4 through 6, then the children of the next brother (William #2) receive numbers 7 through 12, and followed by the final one (James #3), which completes that generation. The third generation happens to begin with number 19. The same system is used, numbering each person in birth order.

          Each child, when first listed as the issue of its parents, has an Arabic numeral, as just explained, and a Roman numeral which numbers all the children of their father. So, for example, the oldest child of William (#2) is listed as:

          7 i. Elizabeth2
in which the 7 is her individual identification number, the i. is her place as eldest child, and the superscript 2 marks her as the second generation.

          Biographies of (mostly) males are given in numerical order. Links are provided to enable the reader to jump from the first mention of a Paxson as the child of his (or occasionally her) parents to the biographical entry. Children whose names are underscored and written in blue are linked to later biographies.

          In the collateral lines, I do not make any attempt to follow the offspring of siblings. Generally only one line is tracked, although I try to give all the siblings (but not cousins) in each generation. Therefore there is no overall numbering system in the collateral lines.


A Note about Dates

          For at least 200 years members of the Religious Society of Friends eschewed the pagan names of the months, preferring to number them instead. Most dates in this webpage have been translated from the Quaker numerals (First Month, Second Month) to their more commonly used names. However, before 1752 the new year (according to the calendar used by the English[4]) did not begin until March 25. Therefore First Month was what we call March, and September through December were, as their Latin names would suggest, actually Seventh Month through Tenth Month. The actual change over in England and the British colonies happened on Wednesday, September 2, 1752. The next day was Thursday, September 14, 1752. In this webpage, for the years before 1752, dates from January 1 to March 24 are given in the Old Style. For example, what in New Style would be 11 January 1647 will be expressed as 11 January 1646/7, or 11 Eleventh Month 1646/7. Readers may translate these to modern dates by (in this example) dropping the 6 and understanding the date as 11 January 1647. Often secondary sources confuse Old Style and New Style numbered months, resulting in dates being given incorrectly: July instead of September, for example. Sometimes the years will be off, as in this example assuming it is 1646 instead of 1647. Where I have been unable to check the original source I will often put both dates, with a question mark.

          Friends also refused to use names that were derived from pagan sources for the days of the week. So they referred to them by number: First Day instead of Sunday, Second Day for Monday, and so on. In quotations from older Friends' sources weekdays will often be referred to with Quaker nomenclature. One continuation of this old practice is modern Friends habit of calling Sunday School First Day School.

Explanations of Some Quaker Practices

          The first generations of the Paxson family in Pennsylvania were all members of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. In the seventeenth century, when Friends began, their theology was quite distinct from either the Roman Catholic church or the various Protestant denominations of the time. One ought not to be able to separate Friends' faith or theology from Friends' practice or lifestyle. What Friends believed and how they lived each day should be two sides of the same coin. Friends' "practice" includes both individual lifestyles and also the processes and structures that have developed corporately for the functioning of the Religious Society.

          In the mid-seventeenth century when Friends began, they felt that they were to be a demonstration model, so to speak, of the "Kingdom" that Jesus spoke about so much. In order to live a counter-cultural life several things were important. One was that the entire family needed to work at it. It would be very difficult for one spouse and not the other to be upholding the Friends' witnesses. One of these witnesses was against the established church, set up by the government, paid for with involuntary tithes, with compulsory universal attendance. Friends did not find that such a church gave them any spiritual nourishment at all. So Friends refused to attend and refused to pay tithes, and were continually in trouble for this. They also refused to be married, have their babies baptized, or their dead buried by established clergy (who didn't like this because they collected fees for these services). Friends developed their own quasi-legal form of marriage.

          Some of the issues that are explained here include the use of oaths, why tithes were such a big issue, and what it was about "hat honor" that got early Friends in such trouble. Then there are a few explanations about distinctive Quaker practices, such as ministers, the use of certificates of removal, committees, and Friends' different marriage procedure.

          There are lots of references to a variety of these corporate Friends' testimonies that might not be familiar to some readers. In the first years of the rise of Quakerism, the issue of oaths was particularly conspicuous. Friends understood that Christ called upon them to be not only filled with Truth, but to speak only the truth. An oath was seen as an invitation to speak less than truthfully when not under oath. Since they felt obligated to speak only the truth at all times, they felt taking an oath was unnecessary. They justified their refusal to take an oath by pointing to the clear instruction of Jesus in Matthew 5:34 to "swear not at all", echoed in James 5:12. Friends were troubled by people who swore allegiance to the king, then to the Commonwealth, to the Lord Protector, and after the Restoration to the king again. Since the British legal system was predicated on oaths, refusing to swear meant that Friends could not participate in the usual civil legalities like juries, settling estates, participating in lawsuits, or serving in public office. I have described some other corporate Friends' practices at appropriate points in the biographical sketches of individuals.

          Tithes were a major religious, economic, and political issue, especially in the seventeenth century. Friends and others resented having to pay a tenth of their produce to maintain a government-established church that gave them no spiritual nourishment. If the local priest or minister was particularly vindictive, Friends could be jailed for long periods for refusing to pay small sums. In the sixteenth century, after Henry VIII had broken with Rome, abolished the monasteries, and gave or sold former church properties to his favorites or to wealthy laypersons, the tithes connected to those properties continued to be collected but now tended to support the lifestyles of younger gentry sons or tithe farmers rather than the church. Tithe farmers made a living collecting tithes from those who happened to live within a parish where the right to collect those tithes had been impropriated, or sold to the tithe farmer. In addition wealthy people tended to find ways to avoid paying tithes while poor folks had them forcibly seized. From the mid seventeenth century on Friends refused to pay and consistently had their goods distrained, often at many times the value of the tithe owed. Even after the Act of Toleration tithes continued to be collected, so Friends continued to suffer.

          Hat honor was a third major testimony of Friends that often incurred a violent reaction from judges, fathers, and those assuming themselves superior to the Friend who stood there with his hat firmly on his head. Friends understood their refusal to doff their hat to a social superior, or to engage in the elaborate bowing and scraping etiquette demanded in the mid seventeenth century, was in response to a command from God. It was also--and was seen as such--as a direct challenge to law and order, undermining the very foundation of the hierarchical and patriarchal society of the European world.[5] Since Friends understood that the "Kingdom of Heaven" that Jesus spoke of so frequently was egalitarian, their refusal to participate in the reinforcement of social inequality was, indeed, a direct challenge to the status quo.

          Friends' ministers. Although for over 200 years Friends had no paid clergy (and some meetings still maintain that tradition), they were not without ministers. Friends recognized gifts of ministry, poured out on women and men, young or old, as prophesied in Joel 2:28. Such gifted individuals were recognized by the local and quarterly meetings, and met together in "Select Meetings" of ministers and elders in addition to the regular meetings for worship and business. The language in the minutes noting the recognition of gifts of ministry varied. Sometimes there was simply a notice that a Friend had joined the Select Meeting. More frequently they would be "recommended" or "recognized". Ministers were not paid, and were expected to earn their own living, although Friends often contributed to their travel expenses or helped with family and farm when a minister was away from home.

          Certificates of Removal. When a Friend removed from one meeting to another, he or she asked for and received a certificate of removal to introduce him or herself to the new meeting, as someone in good standing among Friends. This practice is a good way of keeping track of the movements of individual Friends at least through the eighteenth and early part of the nineteenth century. While certificates of removal are still used among Friends in the Conservative and Friends General Conference branches, they are no longer a reliable guide as Quakers often move and, out of sentiment or inertia, retain their membership in their original meeting.

          Committees. Before the last third of the nineteenth century no Friends Meeting had a pastor or priest. All the functions of the faith community were performed by meeting committees formed for the specific purpose, and by those recognized as having gifts of ministry or eldering. In the first century (i.e. 1650s to 1750s) committees were named for a specific short-term function, then released as soon as the service had been performed. By the nineteenth century a few committees were beginning to be named for terms of service of a year or more. Since all the appointments of Friends to serve on committees were recorded in the minutes, they provide a good indication of an individual's level of participation in the ongoing life of the faith community. They also can give some hint as to the gifts the meeting discerned in a given Friend: helping resolve a "difference" (or conflict), attending to financial matters, or checking someone's "clearness" to marry or move.

Quaker tapestry panel on marriage

          From earliest recorded times marriage has been about property, who gets it and how it is passed along. The Roman church wanted marriage to be marked with an ecclesiastical ceremony. Finally in the late eleventh century and early twelfth marriage rituals that seem somewhat familiar began: gifts, promises, a priest, mass, and so on. These practices spread slowly throughout the western church. From the twelfth century on the church pushed for a public ceremony at the church door. The Council of Trent made marriage in the church a legal necessity for Roman Catholics. Much later, in Great Britain Lord Hardwick's marriage act of 1753 required marriage in the Anglican church. It was superceded in 1836 by English law establishing civil marriage.[6]

          Friends' marriages traditionally took place after the couple had announced their intentions to marry one another at a monthly meeting for women and for men, at which a small committee would be appointed (by the women's meeting for the prospective bride and by the men's meeting for the prospective groom). The committees would investigate to see if the person was clear of other marriages or engagements and had the permission of parents or other relatives if the parents were deceased. The committees would report to the following monthly meeting, at which time the couple would again be present. If there was no impediment permission was granted for the couple to fulfill their intentions of marriage. At a subsequent meeting for worship the couple would rise and say their vows to one another. The couple then signed the marriage certificate that was a quasi-legal document stating what had just taken place, which was then read out loud and everyone present invited to sign as witnesses. This would be followed by silent worship out of which vocal ministry and prayers could be offered. Thus these marriage certificates indicate who attended the wedding, as well as usually providing the names of the parents of the couple and where they lived.

          Importance of Quaker Marriage for Friends: J. William Frost, The Quaker Family in Colonial America: A Portrait of the Society of Friends (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1973) offers a compelling portrait of the importance of the family and meeting for sustaining Friends principles. Even though in Pennsylvania there was no established church, and over the years elsewhere the issue with an established church faded, Friends still felt the tradition was terribly important. If a young couple did not come to the meeting and ask to be married under its care, if they married with a priest or pastor of another church, or if they married a non-Friend, they would be "dealt with" or disciplined. That means they either acknowledged and condemned their action in going against Friends' principles at which point they would be accepted once more, or they were eventually disowned. The latter was not like Amish shunning; it was an acknowledgment that they were not in unity with Friends. They were still allowed to attend worship and be part of the Quaker community but they could not be acknowledged as a member or attend meetings for business because they did not exhibit the behavior expected of Friends by Friends. They did not uphold part of Friends' witness. At that point they no longer appear in Friends' records. However, if at any time they acknowledged and condemned their behavior and tried to behave once again in unity with Friends, if their statement was deemed sincere they would be once again an integral part of the meeting. This sometimes happened just before the couple intended to move and hoped to receive a certificate of removal to a Friends meeting in their new location.

Sources and Documentation

          Great efforts have been made to document a primary or reliable secondary source for all the information given in this website. For the first three generations and most of the fourth, clicking on a number in brackets will move you to the correct note on the Citations page.[7] Alternatively you can view all the citations at once, at least for the first four generations, which is the best way to see full citations rather than shortened forms. The first time a source is mentioned, its full citation will be given. After that, it will usually be a short form. If you want to see all the citations all at once, click on Citations.

          However, the more recent generations are still under construction. Therefore the sources are usually given in smaller font in brackets. My apologies for their incompleteness. Some are still in a form probably more meaningful to me than to the general reader. Unfortunately, a few citations have simply gone missing.

          A few of the individual family pages in the Collateral lines will have their own separate citation pages that work the same way as do those for the earlier generations of Paxson pages, described above. However, most of them will have their notes and sources at the bottom of their pages, or simply in brackets. This remains a work in progress.

          Not only do the more recent generations not yet have their citations put into a polished form, they also include a great deal of third-source information that I have not yet checked myself. My intention in including things from the web or from volunteers who kindly offer me their findings, that I have not researched myself, is to spark an increased conversation that may ferret out new nuggets of data. I have tried to provide sources so that viewers may evaluate it for themselves. My apologies for this; some day I hope to get everything checked. Don't hold your breath. I am aging faster than this webpage. Meanwhile, caveat emptor.

Coat of Arms

          There was at least one coat of arms granted to a Paxton/Paxson in 1250, although as we are not descended from the eldest son of the eldest son of the eldest son we are not entitled to use it. However, "differencing" is allowed in heraldry by which a descendant who is not the heir may still use the arms if there is some modification, either small or large so that it is not exactly the same as the original arms. Of course there is no heraldic authority in the USA so using any coat of arms is not covered by laws here, as it is in the United Kingdom. [8]

          I have not yet traced the actual line of descent from whomever was originally granted the arms. For those who enjoy such things, however, here is one description:

ARMS: Ermine, two chevrons, the one sable, the other azure, between three mullets, in the pale of the last.
CREST: An eagle's head erased, azure, charged on the neck with two chevrons, or, between a pair of wings argent. Semee of mullets gules.

Organization of this Website

          For ease and speed of downloading, the Paxson genealogy appears on eight separate pages, each one dedicated to a single generation. Click on the page that interests you. The more recent generations are by no means comprehensive. If your family fits in here and is not included, I would very much appreciate hearing from you so that it might be included. My thanks to those cousins who have already contributed data. Send me an e mail at .

          See the alphabetical list of almost every Paxson individual catalogued in these pages. These pages are constructed by hand, so to speak, by writing the html; they are not generated by a software program that automatically indexes everything, so it takes time.

Our branch of the Paxson/Paxton family in England, in the seventeenth century (ca. 1640 to 1682).
          See Photographs and maps of Buckingham and Oxford. (There are some photographs courtesy of Barbara F. Gill, among others.) There are also other scenes from England that various branches of the family would have known. (Perennially under construction.)

The first three generations of the Paxson family in colonial Bucks County, Pennsylvania, (1682- ca. 1775). You can go directly to the First (the Immigrant Generation), or to the Second, or the Third Generation.
          I believe these are complete in terms of including all members of the family in these first three generations. However, I continue to find new bits of information about specific individuals, and welcome from readers documented data I do not yet have.
          There are some illustrations and a map.

Fourth Generation, during the American Revolution and Federalist period of the United States.
          This seems to me to be very nearly complete, although there may always be gaps in information about some individuals. I think I have the names of all their children, so that not only the fourth generation but also the fifth now have consecutive numbers.
          Graphics illustrating the text—I have found and posted a few interspersed in the text; I hope to get more in time.

See the Fifth Generation, during the ante bellum period, although too many have very little information.
          There are photographs of many of the Friends meeting houses in which members of the family worshipped, although this is not yet complete.
          There is a page on the underground railroad in Adams County, Pennsylvania.

There is a partial account of the Sixth Generation, during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and into the Gilded Age.
          Lots more work remains to be done on this page, but it continues to grow, thanks largely to other Paxson descendants who share helpful information with me. A warning: I have not done a lot of this research myself, so cannot vouch for every factoid that I've posted. Eventually I may be able to do a complete census search, but that has not happened yet.
          Photographs of people and places are being posted as I receive them. If you have something to add, please let me know via e mail at .

There are fewer members posted in the Seventh Generation, the last third of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth.
          Much of this has come from cousins, or from the web, and I have not had time to check it all myself. It is only posted in this early form in the hopes of eliciting additional information and corrections from readers who find their own grandparents or great grandparents or even great great grandparents listed there.
          Photographs are being made available, as they come to hand. If you have relevant pictures that you would be willing to share, please contact me.

The same is true, but even more so, for the Eighth Generation, the beginning of the twentieth century, but stretching over a large number of decades.
          Most of this has come from cousins, and I have not checked it myself. It is posted in the hopes of eliciting additional information and corrections from readers who find their own parents, grandparents, or even great grandparents listed there. I do not intend to continue this web page very far into the twentieth century as the relatives who are still living aren't intended to be posted. However, names that appear in the 1940 federal census are included even though many of them are probably still living. I have recently started to keep a more complete record of present Paxsons off line.
          Photographs are being made available, as they come to hand. If you have some pictures that you would be willing to share, please contact me.

List of a few of the many Collateral Lines that connect to a Paxson. Only a relatively few of these are operational as yet, but at least you can see which lines interest me. I have no expectation that this will ever be complete. My intention is to continue writing books (the Ancestor Wall series) about selected lines, embedding the genealogy within a much larger historical context. This web site offers a taste of my approach.

          The first book published, 1328 North Fifteenth Street: the Dunning Family and Its Things, is available at cost at It focusses on material culture in regard to Thomas S. Dunning and his wife Lydia (Balderston) and their children, parents, siblings, and some Dunning, Stevenson, and a few of the Balderston ancestors.

          The second book, The Price Family in History Among Welsh and English Quakers in Chester County, Pennsylvania: A History of the Ancestors of Anne Jones Price Paxton is also available. The awkwardly long title pretty well describes the contents, exploring the Price family and more than 20 collateral lines of Chester County Quakers. You can see which surname lines are included because on the Collateral Lines list they are marked with Common Vetch.

The third book in the Ancestor Wall series, The Southern Connection, explores the ancestors of Eleanor Addison Smith (Holliday) Price, the wife of James Bonsall Price, and therefore a companion volume to The Price Family in History. Surname families included in this third volume were mostly colonial Maryland tobacco planters and thus are marked with the flower of a nicotiana (tobacco) plant. This volume examines the political, economic, and religious environment of these (mostly) plantation elites. It is available at cost at

          The fourth volume in the series tells the story of the The Richardsons of Four Lanes' End in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Five generations of the Richardson family lived in the stone house built at the crossroads in what is now Langhorne. The book is also available at cost at The floral symbol for the Richardsons and their collateral lines is Yarrow.

          The fifth volume in the series, Warlords and Kings, takes a different tack, tracing the roots of one Pennsylvania Welsh Quaker family into the unfamiliar world of early medieval warlords, princes, and kings. It includes connections among Anglo-Saxon, Irish, Viking, and Welsh families. It goes back into the mists of time where legend, mythology, and history cheerfully commingle. The scholarship is a bit shaky as this period in history is not my area of expertise. This book is also available at cost at

Paxson logo
There is a note on this logo.[1]

construction           Remember, this entire website is still very much under construction, and probably will be as long as I am alive and functioning. If you are frustrated by what is not here, come back in a few weeks or months--or years. Or, better yet, send me your additions and suggestions by e mail to .

          This homepage was last updated 7m/25/2020.