Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Crossing "the Pond" with Edward Shippen (1639-1712)

My six times great uncle, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr., was a very accomplished man for his time. He attended what is now Princeton University, had been an assistant pastor at the Old South Church in Boston, served as a chaplain during the Revolutionary War, and was the second chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

He married Susan, or Susannah, Shippen, a great granddaughter, of Edward Shippen, who was born in England, came to Boston in 1668, later removed to Philadelphia at the urging of William Penn, and was named the first mayor of Philadelphia under the 1701 Charter of Privileges promulgated by William Penn.

Shippen genealogy from Genealogy of the Roberdeau Family by General Daniel Roberdeau
published in 1876 and available on

In 1911 the Historical Society of Pennsylvania compiled a multi-volume work entitled Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania. Beginning on page 96 is a profile of Edward Shippen which includes several generations of descendants. Below is an excerpt of his profile.

Edward Shippen as drawn from an original painting;
courtesy of Find A Grave

"...Edward Shippen born in Methley, Yorkshire, not far from Leeds, to William Shippen and Mary Nunnes, whose father was a yeoman. Edward was baptized in the parish church on 5 March 1639. He came to the American colonies in 1668. There he engaged in mercantile pursuits with much success. In 1669 he was a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, showing that he was still at that time a member of the Protestant Church of England. Two years later he married Elizabeth Lybrand, a Quakeress; this marriage led him to become a Quaker. Owing to his new religion, he was subjected to severe persecution, and in 1677, was twice "publickly whipped." In various ways he was subjected to great annoyance, until finally, about 1693-4, he decided to take refuge in Pennsylvania.

It would seem to have taken him about a year to perfect the disposal of his estate in Boston and transfer it to Philadelphia. In this latter city his wealth, his fine personal appearance, his house on Second Street[1], styled a "princely mansion," his talents and his high character, speedily obtained for him such position and influence that on 9 July 1695, he was elected Speaker of the Assembly; in 1699 he was made Chief-Justice, and on 25 October 1701, William Penn named him in the charter as Mayor of the City of Philadelphia...In Edward Shippen he found a man of courage, energy, integrity, intelligence, and sagacity; whose unspotted moral character was ample earnest to the citizens that the executive power would be exercised with the strictest justices and fidelity; whose active business habits and bravery equally assured them of the chief magistrate's resolution and promptness, whilst his high social position gave dignity to the office.

From 1702 to 1704 Edward Shippen was President of the Governor's Council, and for six months, when there was no Governor in the Province, he was acting Governor. In 1706 he contracted his third marriage, which led to his separation from the Society of Friends. After that, apparently, he retired from public life, except that he continued to advise upon public affairs...Edward Shippen died at Philadelphia, 2 October 1712...

U.S. Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935; courtesy of

Edward Shippen married (first) Elizabeth Lybrand of Boston; they had eight children, from whom are descended the Shippen family in America. She having died 25 October 1688, he married Rebecca, widow of Francis Richardson, of New York, and daughter of John Howard (Haywood) of Yorkshire...Edward Shippen took up his residence in a fine mansion on the west side of Second Street, north of Spruce, and had a fine, "country house" at Broad and South Streets, his property extending along the south side of the old city as far west as Sixteen Street and east to Front Street. William Penn spent much of his time at Shippen's house on Second Street, on the occasion of his second visit to Pennsylvania. His spacious lawn extending down to Dock Creek, on which he maintained a herd of deer, and his orchard of choice fruits were famous in their day...

Mr. Shippen's second wife, Rebecca (Howard) Richardson, died in Philadelphia, 26 February 1705, and in 1706 he married Elizabeth/Esther, widow of Thomas (or Philip) James, from Bristol, England, daughter of John Wilcox. This marriage separated him from the Society of Friends, and about this time he retired from public affairs. Edward Shippen died in Philadelphia 2 October 1712. His third wife survived him, dying in Philadelphia, 7 August 1724."

Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850 edited by James N. Arnold and
published in 1895; courtesy of

One of Shippen's grandsons was Continental Congressman William Shippen. A granddaughter was the wife of Philadelphia Mayor Charles Willing. Another grandson, Edward Shippen, III, was also a mayor of Philadelphia. Shippen's great granddaughter, Susan, married into the prominent Presbyterian Blair family, and a great great granddaughter was Peggy Shippen, wife of Benedict Arnold..."

As I researched the life of Edward Shippen, the issues I could find in the above biographical profile were minor. 1) I believe his third wife, Elizabeth or Esther (Wilcox) James was also a Quaker and he was not separated from the Society of Friends as a result of that marriage. He was buried at the Old Pine Street Presbyterian Church Cemetery. So more research is definitely required. 2) There are also conflicting sources about his place of birth, which could be Hillham, Cheshire, England. However, his father married in Methley and by 1642 (3 years after Edward was baptized) was overseer of the poor. He did die in Cheshire. So I am unsure. 

And may I say how much I enjoyed Colonial era records from Boston and Philadelphia. What a difference to what is available for Virginia during the same period!

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