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Some Paternal Ancestors of Edwin Brown (“Big Doc”) KUGLER Sr
Charles WOOLVERTON (c1660–c1740)1
He was born in England, but it is uncertain just where.
He was a Quaker and since Quakers were still persecuted in England he probably had motivation to emigrate to the New World. He seems to have been a devout man throughout his life, though he didn’t always get along with his fellow Quakers.
There are conflicting stories regarding Charles’s immigration to America. Some accounts say that he sailed from Dorsetshire, which is on the southern coast of England, on the English Channel. Others state that he was from Wolverhampton, 150 miles away in central England, (150 miles is a long distance in England) near the city of Birmingham. Of course, he could have been from Wolverhampton and still have sailed from Dorset. One story has him coming with two brothers, named John and Gabriel, and that they went first to Long Island. About 1690, Charles moved to the Philadelphia area, and then across the Delaware River to New Jersey. Another family historian states that Charles, the Quaker, came to the New World in 1682 with William Penn, also a Quaker, when Penn made his first visit to his new colony, awarded to him the previous year by King Charles II. But there are no Woolvertons among the names of the people known to have sailed with Penn, though not all passengers have been identified.2
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The fact is that Charles’s whereabouts are unknown before August, 1693, when he bought 100 acres of land “incl. 20 a. remote with a swamp” in what is now Burlington Co, NJ. He sold this land in January, 1696, and in May bought 150 acres “along the line of the Indian purchase” in Mansfield Township, Burlington County.3
About 1696 he married Mary ?????? (b 1674 ?Virginia; d 1751 Hunterdon Co, NJ). Her name is usually given as Mary Chadwick or sometimes Mary Leet, but these surnames were probably those of stepfathers, for her mother Elizabeth was married four or more times. Charles and Mary had nine known children—Charles, Roger, Mary, Daniel, Isaac, Dennis, Dinah, Joel, and Thomas.4
In 1702 Charles was given 50 acres near Mt Carmel, Burlington Co, by his mother-in-law and step-father-in-law, Elizabeth and John Dixon, Elizabeth’s ?fourth husband. Elizabeth’s previous husband, John Chadwick had purchased land in Burlington Co in 1689. Charles sold this 50 acres back to his in-laws in 1704.5 Sometime later he owned 300 acres in Springfield Township, Burlington County.
Charles Woolverton, the Quaker, is mentioned a numerous times in the minutes of the Burlington, NJ, Friends Meeting, beginning in 1704. The Burlington Quaker Meeting dictated the spread of farms across the countryside—and nearly everything else—among the local Society of Friends. In 1713 Woolverton was charged with "disunity" by the Burlington Meeting.6
In 1714 he purchased, for 350 silver English pounds, 1665 acres “besides ye accustomed allowance for Roads & Highways” in Hunterdon County, which was created that year from Burlington Co, lying along the east bank of the Delaware River7. This land was in the vicinity of the present towns of Rosemont and Stockton, NJ, today in Delaware Twp, then in Amwell Twp. Between this purchase and his death about 1740 there are records of at least 13 transfers of real estate in which he was involved.8 The first of these was in 1716, when he sold his 300 acres in Springfield Township, Burlington County, for £300.9 On some of the Hunterdon County land purchased in 1714 Charles raised his family and farmed the land for the rest of his life.
But for a time he was also a judge. In 1721 Charles was elected one of the first justices of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Hunterdon County. In addition, he served on a New Jersey provincial Grand Jury in 1720.10
In 1727 he was reinstated in the Burlington Monthly Meeting. In 1731 he joined the Chesterfield Meeting and was appointed overseer of the Friends settled in the Bethlehem (Frenchtown) area in Hunterdon County.11
“On 21 November 1729 viewers reported that they had viewed and allowed a road four rods in width as the result of a petition of Daniel Howell, Esq., Charles Woolverton, George Fox, John Holcomb, William Ruttinghouse, Charles Woolverton, Jr., and Samuel Green, that a road be laid out from the upper line of Amwell Township to Daniel Howell, miller, . . . The road was today’s Route 519.”12
Charles Wooverton provided each of his sons with a farm:
“When Charles Woolverton began to dispose of his land to his sons in 1731, he was at least 70 years old. The disposition was partly by gift and partly by sale. There is no evidence that he made a will or an estate requiring probate, and so in all likelihood he disposed of all his lands (with the possible exception of his homestead) during his life. In 1731 itself he is known to have conveyed land to Charles, Isaac, and Dennis, three of his five oldest sons, and he appears to have conveyed land to Daniel as well, a fourth of those five sons. All of the land conveyed in 1731 was carved out of the 1665-acre tract of land that he had purchased in 1714 from William Biddle. As a result of those conveyances and the further conveyance of 150 acres to Roger and 89 acres to Dennis in 1735, he was left without sufficient land to convey to Joel, his sixth son, when Joel reached his majority. Consequently he purchased an additional 315 acres of land from Peter Imlay, lying partly in Amwell Township and partly in Bethlehem (now Kingwood) township, from which he conveyed 186.25 acres to Joel in 1737. It appears that he conveyed a further 78.75 acres of the land purchased from Peter Imlay to his son Dennis, leaving 100 acres from the Imlay purchase that he probably intended to convey to his remaining son, Thomas, who had not yet reached his majority. It is not known whether that conveyance was completed.”13
In later life, Charles Woolverton wrote several religious tracts, of which three survive—The Spirit's Teaching Man's Sure Guide: Briefly asserted, and recommended to the sober Perusal of all Christian Believers, published by Benjamin Franklin and H Meredith (1729); Christ the Eternal Word the Only Means of Salvation, published by Franklin (1738); and The Upright Lives of the Heathens, published by Bradford (1740).14
Charles presented a Bible to his son, Charles Jr. This is part of the inscription he wrote in it—
“This Book I give to my oldest son,
This Bible had been printed, in English, in Geneva, Switzerland, in 156016 by English Protestant refugees from the reign (1553–1558) of Bloody Mary, who caused the death of nearly 300 English non-Catholics. It is believed to be still in the possession of a descendant in Florida.17
It is not known whether Charles Woolverton was still living when his last book was published in 1740. His last days are as mysterious as his origins. No will has been found. He probably died in Hunterdon Co, NJ, and was buried in Rosemont Cemetery, Delaware Township (which was formed from Amwell Township in 1738).
4 Macdonald and McAdams, p 1–2, 4–5.
5 Ibid, p 2, 3.
7 Macdonald and McAdams (2001), p 3. Magill/“Laquear” (1957), p 51. The original Hunterdon County extended from the present location of Trenton all the way up the Delaware River to the New York state line, which was farther north than it is now. The provincial boundary was redefined in 1773, to New Jersey's loss. See The Jerseys/Evolution of Hunterdon County.
8 Macdonald and McAdams (2001), p 2, 793–796, 803.
9 Ibid, p 3.
10 Ibid, p 3.
12 Macdonald and McAdams (2001), p 15, 793–794.
13 Ibid, p 801.
14 Macdonald and McAdams (2001), p 3–4.
15 Pickett (ws).
17 During the 1700s, the Bible passed out of the hands of the Wolvertons. A century later it was purchased at an auction and presented by the purchaser to a Wolverton descendant. It would now be nearly 450 years old.—Hitt (ws).
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