Ellis: Generation Two, Immigrant Ellis was born in Wales in 1687
and was either 12 or 13 years old when he traveled with his family on the
Robert and Elizabeth to Pennsylvania. Ellis was John Hugh's third child,
following Jane (1683) and Rowland (1685). Ellis married Jane Foulke in
August 1713 while still living at Gwynedd. Jane Foulke, who was three
years older than Ellis, came from the same area (Gwynedd) of Wales and
also had migrated on the 1698 voyage of the Robert and Elizabeth. (8) Ellis
and Jane had seven children. The third, a daughter, apparently died at birth
and remained un-named. Ellis died in 1764 at age 76 or 77 and Jane
followed two years later at age 81.
In the Oley Valley, Ellis clearly made his living by farming and
operating his sawmill, but he appears to have been more prominent for his
leadership role in the local Exeter Society of Friends. Records indicate that
Ellis was instrumental in the success of the Society of Friend's Exeter
Meeting (located in Oley Valley) during the middle 18th century. He was
characterized as the most prominent minister, or "Weightiest Friend" in
Quaker terms. His memorialist wrote of him that he embodied the Quaker
ideal of charity, commitment, and effort. A many-paragraphed
commemoration in Quaker records uses phrases such as "good example,"
"meek and loving," "instructively cheerful," "affectionate husband," "tender
parent," and "kind master."
At the same time, he was "...a lover of good order in the church, and
well knew the dangerous tendency of undue liberty." This referred to the
Quaker code that held members to account for misconduct. Ellis, for
example probably participated in deliberations regarding one of his own
sons, William, who was dismissed from Exeter Meeting membership in
1754, after three disciplinary episodes due to his excessive proclivity to
That Ellis Hughes was the "Weightiest Friend" meant, in my
judgment, that he was an important leader in the Exeter Friends, Oley
Valley, Pennsylvania community during the apex of Quaker influence in
Pennsylvania and in America. At the time , religion was almost
indistinguishable from government.
Ellis took ill, according to Quaker records, at the 1764 funeral of his
son (and our next ancestor), John, and died eleven days later. Quaker
records list them both as being buried in the Exeter Meeting burial ground.
The Will abstract:
"Ellis Hugh, Formerly Oley, now Exeter, date Jan.5, 1764, probate Jan. 27,
1764. Provides for wife Jane. To son Samuel plantation and saw mill etc.
whereon he lives in Exeter containing 162 acres 54 perches. To son Edward
plantation etc. where he lives containing 96 acres 38 perches. To grandson
George Hugh, son of John, deceased plantation etc. where my son lately
lived containing 52 acres 22 perches, he allowing his mother Martha Hugh
1/3 of the profits during her life. To Margaret wife of Samuel Lee L5,
having been advanced. Son-in-law Samuel Lee and sons Samuel and Edward
executors. Codicil -- same date, gives to son William and revokes legacy
of land to grandson George Hugh, and gives it to all the children of son
John, vis: George, Jane, Eleanor, and Samuel, allowing George two shares.
Letters to Samuel and Edward Hugh. Witness Jesse Willets, William Boone,
James Starr, and Abel Thomas."
In this, grandson George Hugh was, of course, our next ancestor. He would
have been 20 (almost 21) years old at the time of Ellis's death in 1764.
He is the one who married Martha Boone, and then moved to the
Catawissa/Roaring Creek area after it was founded in about 1774.
I think that the L5 (5 pounds British currency) given to Margaret was not
an insignificant sum in those days when cash was not plentiful. It's not
clear how much went to William, who had been ousted from the Society of
Friends in 1754 for excessive drinking.
The "...mother Martha Hugh." in this was John's second wife. George's
birth mother had been Hannah Boone, but she died early -- when George was
only three years old -- and he undoubtedly knew his mother as Martha
(Cole) Hugh, John's second wife.
After Ellis' death, Jane (Foulke) Hughes lived with their daughter,
Margaret, and son-in-law, Samuel Lee of Oley until she died in 1766. This
Samuel Lee is in the ancestry line (via marriages) of Robert E. Lee, the
Confederate Civil War General. Ironically, marriages through the Boones
also establish a Hughes relationship to Abraham Lincoln. It's doubly ironic,
in my view, that these two war leaders, on opposite sides of the U.S.'s
greatest war, came from pacifist Quaker roots.
John: Generation Three, Pennsylvania John was the first in our
line of Hugheses born on the American continent. His birth in the Gwynedd
area in March 1714 appears to have pushed the bounds of propriety, coming
as it did just seven and one-half months after his parents marriage. (9) After
Joining with his family's move to the Oley Valley in 1731, John married
Hannah Boone in November 1742. Twenty two year-old Hannah was one of
George Boone's daughters, and a first cousin to Daniel Boone. John and
Hanna had two children before she died in March 1746. John's second
marriage was to Martha Cole.
It is not clear that farming was this second John's main source of
income in Oley valley. Although a landowner, maps show that he also
owned a tavern and a tannery.
John's relationship to George Boone, his first father-in-law, led him
into positions of responsibility in the local Oley Valley government during
the last 12 years of his life. George Boone was Oley Valley's first Justice of
the Peace, appointed in 1728. Justice of the Peace was the most powerful
local official, supervising the other county and township officers, in
addition to serving as judge in the legal system. George Boone also was
instrumental in bringing a petition to the Philadelphia County court in 1741
to create Exeter Township, so named after the Boones' home in Exeter,
Devonshire, England. (10) John thus became part of a local Boone political
network in the 1750's and 1760's during which Boones and Boone relations
dominated county and provincial assembly offices. John served as Berks
County Collector of Excise during 1752 -1763 and as a County
Commissioner from 1762 until he died in 1764.
What is a Township?
William Penn's 1681 charter decreed that "townships" would be
Pennsylvania's primary form of local government. Creating a township
gave local residents the right to have the king's peace upheld in their
community, the poor cared for, stray livestock controlled, and public roads
provided and maintained. To achieve these goals, township status brought
with it the right to have a constable, a tax collector, a supervisor of
highways, an overseer of the poor, and a keeper of the pound (who rounded
up and secured stray livestock).
John died in March 1764 at age 49 (almost 50), and was buried at the
Exeter Meeting House burial ground, according to Quaker records. John left
no will when he died, leading me to believe that his death was sudden and
unexpected. In December 1766, his son George (our next ancestor)
petitioned the Orphan's Court of Philadelphia County to divide his father's
estate in Exeter Township. The estate consisted of about 190 acres, and was
ordered divided "according to the value." In addition to George, the heirs
including George's sister, Jane (Hughes) Boone, and some younger half
sisters from John's second marriage.
Leading up to the Revolutionary War, England passed its infamous Stamp Tax in
1765, and the grant by Britain to the East India Company of a monopoly on tea
trade led to the "Boston Tea Party" in 1773.
Historic Oley: The U.S.National Park Service added Oley Township
to it's National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The Park Service also
has designated about three dozen Oley Valley houses and other buildings,
including the Exeter Friends Meeting House build in 1759, as architectural
land marks under the protection of its Historic American Buildings Survey
(HABS). (11) That these buildings have survived is due mainly (in my
opinion) to their construction from Pennsylvania fieldstone, which consists
of large, flat, irregularly shaped rocks that the farmers must have picked
ceaselessly for a couple of centuries to try to make their fields easier to work.
The existing town of Oley was initially a "company hamlet" that was
established to house the many workers required to operate Oley Forge. Oley
Forge refined cast iron into wrought iron that could be used by blacksmiths.
My own observation (in September 1996) is that family farming still is
important in Oley Valley, but that the area's small iron ore deposits have
long since been mined out and the forges closed. (12) Oley now is a town with
one-street about three-fourths of a mile long. The houses that line the street
are mainly of fieldstone, and are lived in and well kept. There are no trashy
modern establishments (such as McDonalds), probably due to the influence
of the National Park Service.
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(8) She was one of the nine children who Edward Foulke said escaped
the "sore mortality through the favor and mercy of Devine Providence,"
in his account of the voyage on the Robert and Elizabeth.
(9) This sort of "early" birth has not been all that uncommon among
first born Hugheses.
(10) The area was still in Philadelphia County. Berks County wasn't
created out of the Oley Valley section of Philadelphia County until
(11) HABS records are available for public use at the Library of
Congress (Prints and Photographs Division) in Washington, DC.
(12) Within about 10 miles is the Hopewell Furnace National Historic