Life of Henry Beck and His Children
(RLMB History, Pages 1-16)
The ancestry of the Joseph Ellison Beck family, including the maternal lines, has
been traced back to Quakers who were settlers in New Jersey, principally in Burlington
County, during the latter part of the seventeenth century. Some of the families came
directly to New Jersey from the British Isles, while others came by way of New England,
Rhode Island, the western towns of Long Island, or from places still unknown. All came
seeking "a place of refuge" where they might establish homes and where they might be
free to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. "The Quakers were
preeminently the advocates and martyrs of religious liberty. In common with many others,
they suffered and died for civil liberty also." ... "Because they refused to bear arms, to
take oaths, and to pay taxes for the support of churches in which they did not worship. In
their determination to worship God when, where, and how their consciences directed
them, the Society of Friends offended all other sects. They exposed themselves to the
penalties of existing laws, and suffered cruel persecutions. They were dragged from their
places of worship, their meetinghouses were torn down, and they were fined, mobbed,
beaten, set in the stocks, imprisoned in foul jails, and were sold into colonial slavery.
Through it all they kept the faith and raised not a hand against any man." "But the
persecuted Quakers were yearning for peace and comfort in a new land." Between 1677
and 1781 fourteen hundred Quakers arrived in New Jersey from England, mainly from
London and Yorkshire.
Chesterfield Township "is located on the extreme northern boundary of Burlington
County. It is bounded on the north by Crosswicks Creek, which separates it from Mercer
County; on the east by New Hanover township; on the west by Bordentown township; and
on the south by Mansfield and Springfield townships ... The surface of the land is
generally rolling; the soil light and highly cultivated and produces prolific crops of rye,
wheat, oats, and hay." Crosswicks Creek is in the north; Black's Creek, in the south; and
Reckless Creek, in the east.
The town of Crosswicks is in the northern part of the township on Crosswicks
Creek, about four miles from Bordentown. It is on the road to Freehold. A portion of the
town lies across the creek in Mercer County and is known as North Crosswicks.
Crosswicks was settled in 1681 by the Society of Friends. The first religious meeting of
Friends in Chesterfield township was held at Crosswicks in 1684.
Henry Beck, the first known ancestor in America, was probably one of these
English Quakers. As yet, his birthplace and parentage have not been ascertained. He lived
and died in Burlington County, which became a stronghold of the Quakers, whose
religious and political creed he followed.
In 1685 Henry Beck registered his cattle earmark, which is described and
illustrated in the early Burlington Court records as follows:
"right eare under half-penny, ye left under half penny and a slitt"
Surveys and deeds indicate that Henry Beck, yeoman, (meaning a small farmer or
agriculturist) was in Burlington County in April 1688, when a survey was made for him
"of 150 acres on both sides of Black Creek, adjoining James Pharoe". Other surveys were
made after that time, the largest of which was made for him on November 11, 1698 "of
1,200 acres at Ninevey on the South side of Anchokus or Northampton River, adjoining
Richard Haines, Thomas Wilkins and Francis Austin, touching the pond and path to
Pemisaukin". On November 2, 1697 he acquired from Christopher Weatherill of
Burlington, "one hundred and fourscore acres" half of which he deeded May 11, 1698 to
William Black, junior. [150 + 1200 + 180 = 1440 acres]
Henry Beck was chosen Constable in Chesterfield township at the court held at
Burlington February 21-22, 1697/8. On February 28, 1698 he "return'd Marmaduke
Horsman for his Sucessor for the ensuing year". Henry Beck "served in different
township offices three years, the last as Overseer of poor in 1713". The first entry in the
township book made 1702 was the following one:
"Chesterfield 1713-12 17 At our Township meeting held att John Moors
the 7 day of the 12 month 1712, mad up our a Counts with henery Beck and
then due to him £4 sl2. d7. as Overseer of the poore."
In 1697 the West Jersey Society in an ill-advised moment decided to replace
(Governor) Hamilton with Jeremiah Basse, an Anabaptist preacher turned adventurer,
who had been acting as their land agent. Basse arrived in Burlington in his gubernatorial
capacity April 1698. Hamilton and the Quaker assembly refused to recognize him as
governor, but he appointed a council ... The sessions recorded in the Burlington minutes
between August 1698 and November 1699 were held under Basse's authority, he being
present. ... Three justices appeared on the bench ... most of them non-Quakers or
ex-Quakers. The court seems to have had an anti-Quaker bias, as was to be expected.
Henry Beck was apparently violently dissatisfied with the new order.
"Henry Beck was convicted to have been guilty of Severall misdemeanours
both by his menaces to behavior and did refuse to find Security accordingly.
Wherefore the said Justices did by Mittimus Send the said Henry Beck to
prison till he should give Security Justices did by Mittimus Send the said
Henry Beck to prison till he should give Security for his good behavior.”
On November 3, 1698:
"Henry Beck appear'd at this Court pursuant to his bond given for his
appearance at this court and submitted and acknowledge his error and was
thereupon Discharged by the court"
At the same August 8, 1698 session of the court, Henry Beck was charged with the
"William Brown, Complaint against Henry Beck Defendant the
complainant as a Servant having proved his wages. 11£ 7s. 6d. to be to him
due from Henry Beck his Master the Court thereupon order the said Henry
Beck his Master to pay the said complainant his Servant the Said Wages
Together with Charge of this said Complaint."
MARRIAGE TO ALICE RAWOOD
At the court held May 8, 1691 Henry Beck was charged with a crime:
" Court at Burlington May 8th 1691: ("Henry Beck and Alice Rawood
presented) The Grand Jury present Henry Beck and Alice Rawood the
daughter in Law of William Black for Comitting Fornication. Henry Beck
appeared on the behalfe of himselfe and said Alice (shee being not able to
come) And Acknowledged the aforesaid Cryme: And on behalfe of
himselfe and said Alice submitted to the Judgment of the Bench."
" The Court haveing thereupon Considered of the aforesaid Cryme, order as
followes (vizt) That the said Henry Beck give security for the Indemnifying
the Court of Burlington, And for mainteynance of the Bastard Child; And
that the said Alice Rawood after she shall be delivered and well, shall be
whipt, or pay 5 pounds."
Henry Beck was a member of the Chesterfield Meeting of the Society of Friends.
the first mention of him was in the minutes for the fourth day of the fourth month (June)
"Friends appointed to speak to Henery Beck concerning his miscarriages
and given an accot thereof to the next meeting ..." On the second day of the
fifth month (July) 1691 the minutes reported that the "Friends appointed to
speake with Henery Beck ... find him very sorry for what hee hath doon and
is willing to do what he can for the clearing of the truth"
So he and his wife were asked to:
"Give in the next meeting a Declaration in writeing what shall arise in their
minds Conseming their miscarriage."
At the same time these statements were being recorded in the Men's Minutes for Henry
Beck, similar ones were being recorded in the Women's Minutes of the Chesterfield
Monthly Meeting for Alice Raworth:
7th of 3rd month (May) 1691:"Something taken into consideration about
Alice Raworth vizt: her evil actions in dishonour to the spotless Truth."
4th of 4th month (June) 1691: "friends appointed ... to speak to Alice
Raworth ... that the Truth and they that live by it may be cleared."
2nd of the 5th month (July) 1691—"The answer of Alice now Henry Becks wife.:
She acknowledged that the way to worship God was in the Spirit of Truth.
... "and that she had done contrary to it and was sorrowful as one that
owned her transgression and said she hoped for time to come to live
carefully & was low and tender and we commended her to the guide of
Truth in which is the love of God."
The next month (August) both men's and women's minutes reported that:
Henry Beck and his wife "according to his Promis" did not send in "a
Declaration in writeing of what shall arise in their mindee Concerning their
miscarriage but they fayleing", friends from both meetings were appointed
to visit them again.
The following month (September) a paper came from Henry Beck:
But the friends were not "satisfied with it and some friends having sumthing
more in their minds to say to him it was referred until our next meeting".
Alice Raworth is the daughter by a former marriage of Alice Taylor, sister of
Samuel Taylor. Alice (Taylor) Raworth had married, second, William Black. At the time
of the death of William Black in 1702, the widow, Alice Black, of Burlington County,
was named the sole executrix, with Samuel Taylor and Henry Beck of the same county as
fellow bondsmen. The bond was executed April 9, 1702. Alice Becke was mentioned as a
daughter-in-law in the will, which was made March 3, 1701/2 and proved April 6, 1702.
No further mention of Henry Beck appeared in the minutes until the sixth day of
the third month (May) 1708, when he sent:
"in a Paper ...wherein he condemns and is sorry for several things wherein
he hath walked contrary to Truth".
Alice died before the fifth month (July)1708.
MARRIAGE TO ANNE GODFREY
On the first day of the fifth month (July) 1708:
"Henry Beck acquaints this meeting yt he intends to take to Wife Anne
Godfrey belonging to the Monthly Meeting at Frankford in Pennsylvania
and desires a Certificate from this Monthly Meeting to the said M M of
Friends aforesaid to signifie his clearness from all other women on that
His certificate was granted the fourth day of the sixth month (August) 1708. The minutes
of the Abington Meeting (Pennsylvania) for the twenty-seventh day of the seventh month
1708 reported that:
"Henry Beck of Crossweek Meeting in West Jersie & Anne ye Daughter of
Thomas Godfrey ... did accomplish their marriage ... as is signified by their
The marriage certificate was not found in the Abington Meeting records. It was recorded
in the minutes of the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting (New Jersey):
"Henry Beck and Anne Godfrey—5th day of the 6th month 1708."
DEATH OF HENRY BECK
Henry Beck died at Chesterfield before March 24, 1715 when the inventory of his
personal estate was accepted. The inventory showed a total value of 369 pounds, l1s. 0d.,
including a negro woman and her three children, 100 pounds. The will (undated) was
probated at Burlington on March 30, 17l5. Henry Beck left his widow, Ann, and four
children: James and Raworth by his first wife and Godfrey and Sarah (the latter two
underage) by his second wife.
James Beck, a son of Henry Beck, was named first in his father's will. He shared
with his brother Raworth in his father's plantation and in "twelve Hundred Acres of Land,
... lying on the West sid of Northampton River in ye county of Burlington", both
properties to be divided equally. James Beck was joint executor, with his stepmother,
Ann, of the will of his father, Henry Beck.
Between the 1st and 28th of September 1716, Ann Beck also died, leaving her
estate to her two children, Godfrey and Sarah, who were still underage at this time.
Fourth day of the second month 1717:
Jacob Doughty, one of the executors of Ann Beck, applied for advice to the
Friends of Chesterfield Meeting before he put Sarah out as an apprentice to
Margaret Howell of Philadelphia. Godfrey, "the boy", he kept with him.
On the second day of the twelfth month 1720, several members of the Society of Friends
were appointed to:
"speak to the executors of Widow Beck's last will in order to know how
they have disposed of her children being orphans and that a suitable
education be procured & the estate preserved for the future advantage of the
Children as much as may be and make return to our next M M ..."
Not until the fifth day of the eighth month 1721 did the committee report to the meeting:
"... that Jacob Doughty ... hath the boy with him and ... is chiefly concerned
in that part of the business seems willing to keep the boy to have more
schooling and then shall take Friends advice and direction in the
management of things relating to the said children ... he being present ...,
takes kindly to Friends care and message to him and says he shall always be
willing to take this advice in matters relating to the orphan children ..."
On October 12, 1728 Godfrey Beck of Burlington County (then aged fourteen years
and three months) petitioned the court that Robert Taylor of the same county be appointed
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