Moses Musgrave – His life and his will, with an analysis by the author

Moses Musgrave, son of Oswin, was bom in Belfast, Northern Ireland about 1667. MOSES died about 5 Mar 1725/6 in Lancaster County, Pa., at about 58 years of age. He married ELIZABETH in Chester County, Pennsylvania, about 1700.

 From the Quaker records, Moses must have been unfortunate in his “affairs of the heart” for at a Monthly Meeting on June 5th, 1695, Moses Musgrave and Grace Roberts said their intentions of marriage. A month later they said their intentions again.  We don’t know whether Moses and Grace changed their minds and did not marry or whether they married and she died.

 On December 28, 1697, he requested a certificate to marry Patience Hussey, daughter of John Hussey of New Castle County. Moses was asked to bring his Mother’s consent. We don’t know if he married Patience. We do know, a few years later John Hussey’s Will did not mention a child Patience, nor did it mention any children of Patience’s.

 We know Moses did marry Elizabeth who was the mother of his children and named in his will.

 On  June 3, 1693 Moses was made a defendant in a suit of alleged defamation of character brought by Phillip Yarnell. Moses succeeded in vindicating himself of the charge and the court ordered Yarnell to pay the costs of the case. The final will of Moses is transcribed and analyzed below.

 The Will of Moses Musgrave -spelling is as transcribed from the will

 I, Moses Musgrave, of Sadsbury in the County of Chester, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Yeoman*, being sick in body, but praise be to God of sound and perfect memory, do make this my last Will and Testament, Revoking all others formerly made. First and foremost I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God and my body to a decent burial. I will that all my debts and funeral expenses shall be paid; and as touching all such temporal estate as it has pleased God to bestow upon me, I give and dispose thereof as followeth:

Item.   I give to my dear wife, Elizabeth, all and every of my household goods and cart and plows and gears and all my other plantation** tools and all my homed cattell and five horses and a mare and colt, she to pay to my youngest son, John, when he shall become of age, thirty pounds, lawful money of die Province. I likewise give to my son, John, one gray mare.

 *Yeoman – Someone who owned and worked his own land with the help of his sons and, rarely, hired hands. In colonial Pennsylvania, the yeoman was the rural majority. As a class, yeomen were considered to be above renters and below gentlemen. To the yeoman, working the land was considered to be a way of life, rather than a business to generate cash. Land was something to keep in the family and pass down to future generations. In that time, a farmer was someone who rented land and laborers, to generate cash, with no loyalties to the land.

**Plantation – In Pennsylvania, farms were called plantations. Not to be confused with southern plantations, where most labor was done by slaves. In Pennsylvania at the time, 250 acres was considered the need for a family plantation. At the time of his death, Moses Sr. had acquired 500 acres of the 750 acres he would have needed to provide adequate land for each of his sons.

      Item.   I give to my oldest son, Moses Musgrave, and his heirs forever, the place I now live on containing 250 acres, and all improvements and one chestnut-colored mare and colt and my gun, for and in consideration of his providing sufficient house room upon the said place for my loving wife, his mother, during her widowhood and providing sufficient maintenance, winter and summer for one cow and one horse and to provide sufficient fire wood. These provisions are to be made but during her widowhood.

     Item.   I give and bequeath unto my son, Aaron Musgrave, and to his heirs and assigns, 250 acres of land lying and joining to Roger Dyers in the Great Valley and I give to my son, Aaron, one brown mare and colt, for and in consideration of his paying to his brother, Moses, one pound current money every year after he becomes of age, yearly during my wife’s widowhood, as long as she lives, but no longer.

     Item.   I give to my daughter, Jean, one dark brown mare and two young brown horses and another mare two years old, and her colt, with their increase, from date hereof.

Now the use of my plantation I doth ordain for to bring or raise up my children in ye hands of my wife until my son, Moses, comes to one and twenty years of age; but if my wife should marry, the date thereof, I do appoint my friend*, Abraham Marshall and Zekiall Harland, for to oversee and take care of my children and to take care of my said plantation and to see that neither children nor plantation is hurt and I doth authorize and empower the aforesaid Abraham Marshall and Zekiall Harland to put my

children to trades and to disinherit any man and my wife of ye plantation, if need be required. Lastly, I make, appoint and constitute Abraham Marshall and my loving wife, Elizabeth, to be sole executors of this my last Will and Testament. In Witness thereof, I have herunto set my hand and seal this ye 5th day of the first month, 1726.                                                                                             

           /s/ Moses Musgrave


Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of

John Musgrave

 John Walter

 Caleb Pierce


Comments – Moses Musgrave will**

 Moses’ brother, John, was the first Musgrave of our family line to come to American. In 1682, at the age fifteen, John came from Ireland with Valentine Hollingsworth, one of the leaders of the Quakers, as an indentured servant.  John spent his four years with Hollingsworth; then we have records of John and Moses together in Pennsylvania, along with their father, Oswin and mother Elizabeth. John, Moses, and their three brothers, Aaron, Thomas and Abraham (five Quaker brothers, with the last three born in Pennsylvania) were among the first settlers in the valley of Sadsbury, Lancaster County.

 By 1713, John and Moses owned rich valley land on Octoraro Creek and were within the bounds of the Sadsbury Quaker Monthly Meeting in Chester County, which was later split to make Lancaster County. Both John and Moses signed their documents, so were literate, as were most Quakers.

* Friend – term used for a member of a Quaker monthly meeting.

**Author’s note – I conducted the following research on Moses’ will to figure present worth and analyzed the social customs of the times. These comments, follow-up section and research notes are from my research. amp

 Moses was about 59 years old when he died. His will named his wife, Elizabeth, and also his children. Moses Musgrave and Elizabeth Fischer had the following children:

  Moses Musgrave was bom about 1711, about age 15 when his father died. 

Jean Musgrave, daughter, was bom about 1712, about age 14 when her father died.
Aaron Musgrave was bom about 1713, about age 13 when his father died.
John Musgrave was born about 1719, about age 5 when his father died.

 Elizabeth was alive at the time Moses’ will was written, but must have died within a year. We have a record dated April 26, 1727, where, what is most probably, young Moses Musgrave requested a survey to sell 300 acres on a Branch of the Octoraro, next to Robert Dyer. In their father’s will, this land was left to Aaron, who later became a merchant in Philadelphia. Moses would have been about 16 at the time, which seems under the age of majority for this type of transaction, so we assume Elizabeth had died within a year of her husband.  I did see other probate records with other sons receiving their inheritance at age 14.

The statements in first section of the will are typical of wills of that time and place. In wills, Quaker families divided property equality, not only between sons, but between sons and daughters. Horses were valuable property, generating cash when sold mainly for use on plantations on the coast or, perhaps, export to the Caribbean Islands. Daughters typically did not inherit land, but they were given their part of the personal estate at marriage or upon reaching age eighteen or twenty one. So Jean didn’t do too badly in receiving the horses. In addition, she would have received the rest of her equal part, at eighteen or twenty one years of age or when she married.

 Moses Sr. was determined that no man should marry his wife and step in and deprive his children of their inheritance, which he had worked so hard to create out of the frontier wilderness. In this matter, his will was no different than other wills of that time and place.


                                 INVENTORY AND VALUE OF MOSES MUSGRAVE’S WILL


How Many

Value in 1726 Each/Lbs**

Total Value in 1726/Lbs

Current Value US$*****











Acres of land***


37.1/250 acres



Minus Funeral expenses****





Minus Debts ******










 *number of cattle not given in will. Estimated from other wills probated same year 1726 and same county.

**value of horse and cattle estimated from “Colonial American to 1763” by Thomas L. Purvis.

***value of land from Abstract of Will. 

**** estimated based on expenses from will in “Albion’s Seed.”

*****based on currency conversion calculator on the British National Archives website.

******Moses mentioned debts in his will, but not the amount. Most farmers incurred some debt to buy seed. The debt was generally paid back in the fall after harvest. Quakers had a horror of debt, with some monthly meetings appointing two honest friends to inspect friends’ transactions to assure no one took on more debt than they could handle.

                                       VALUE OF BEQUESTS TO EACH CHILD

Moses, son

Jean, daughter

Aaron, son

John, son

1 horse

5 horses

2 horses

1 horse




30 pounds

250 acres


250 acres


1726 Value/Current Value

1726 Value/Current Value

1726 Value/Current Value

1726 Value/Current Value

41.05 lbs/$5,432

20 lbs/$2,648


34 lbs/$4,502

 Moses Sr. left his household and farm equipment to his wife. We do not know how that was distributed. We do know that Moses Jr. sold 300 acres of land, while the land in the will was divided equally at 250 acres,  between Moses and Aaron. Perhaps, Moses gave the proceeds of the sale of 50 acres to Aaron to make up for Moses keeping the household and farm equipment, since Aaron left the county.

Perhaps, Moses Sr.’s larger legacy was having the courage to come to this country as a young man. Soon after arrival in this country, he headed to the frontier helping to start this new country on its path.  Several of his sons and grandsons, even though Quakers, supported the Revolutionary War, even taking up arms in support of the new country. Many of his descendents continued the westward journey into Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and all the way to California, taking his yeoman culture and love of the land with them.


Moses Jr. married Elizabeth and had eight children. After several years, he sold most of his land and moved close to Sadsbury. When he died on January 13, 1790, the Overseers of the poor informed the meeting that “Elizabeth Musgrave was placed with her daughter at 5 shillings per week,” so she must not have had any savings. Elizabeth died on April 2, 1791. Two of their five sons served in the Revolutionary Army, including my 5th great grandfather–Samuel Musgrave, who served in the Revolutionary War.

No further records have been found for Jean.


Aaron became a successful merchant in Philadelphia. He signed a loyalty oath for the new United States of American. He and his wife, Elizabeth Walter, had five children. His son, Joseph, married Esther, “the flower of Kennett,” who was also proclaimed as very intelligent and possessed 3000 acres of land. Joseph and Esther had six children, one who became a physician and, another, a silversmith of some renown.

 For John, we have less information. We know he did marry, but we don’t know her name. The last record of John shows him having 50 acres in Lancaster County in 1772 with two sons renting from him. One son served in the Revolutionary Army.

 Research Notes on Will of Moses Musgrave

 Abstracts and Administrations 1713-1825: January 5, 1725/6. April 7, 1726. A. 189. The will was probated April 7th, 1726, and is recorded in Will Book A, page 189, in the Court House at West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

 Note on dates: Before 1752, March 25th (Feast of the Annunciation) was the first day of the new year by traditional acceptance of the ecclesiastical calendar. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted double dates were used from January lst until March 25th. In some cases, the dates are followed by the Will Book letter and page number.  So Moses probably died in March 1726 (current calendar), with his will probated in April.

 Tax & other lists for Chester County Townships, etc: The name Sadsbury appears as early as 1708, on a deed, but the township wasn’t organized till 1717, and the following are the only ones on the 1718 tax assessment: William Grinson, James Hamer, Thomas Hayward, John Musgrave, William Smith, Moses Musgrave, William Marsh, John Whitesides, John Moore.


“A History of the Quaker Branch of the Musgrave Family: of the north of Ireland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois and elsewhere, with selected papers relating to the ancient and landed Musgraves of England,” Stanley Musgrave Shartle.

 “A History of the Moses Musgrave Family – Quakers,” Duane and Marie Musgrave, Kansas City, MO., 1998. This book is available online and can be downloaded to your computer by following the link below. If the link doesn’t work, go to Click on the catalog and type in “History of the Moses Musgrave Family Quakers.” The book is a little over 200 pages and presents information from Oswin to William Tate Musgrave.

 “The Musgraves, An Appendix to The Ancestors & Descendants of Joseph Mason & Debby Ann Palmer,” Kirk Bentley Barb, 1932, pp6‐7.

 “Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in American,” David Hackett Fischer, 1989, pp 568-9.

 “Colonial American to 1763” by Thomas L. Purvis.

 Website to calculate present value of British money

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.


Since before Roman times in 200 A.D., the border between England and Scotland was in almost constant warfare.  The people, whether English (like the Musgrave’s) or Scottish (like the Knox’s, McIntire’s), were living in a war zone. The men were warrior-like and often away at battle. With the men away, the women raised the many children and took care of the household and farm, as soldiers trampled crops and rustlers stole livestock. The extended family or clan was the only unit worth any loyalty.

Each family had a few acres where they raised their own food and grazed livestock. Families moved often. Their home was a simple building, built in a day, with few household possessions. As rents increased in the borderlands, Scots-Irish were encouraged to migrate to northern Ireland. Soon rents increased in Ireland and their farming/ grazing lifestyle was no longer economically feasible in Ireland.

When the first Scots-Irish first arrived in Pennsylvania about 1717, their behavior, provocative dress, and speech were very different from the Quakers, so they were rejected, ridiculed, and called “Scots-Irish”. In spite of their poverty, they were a proud people, which further irritated the Quakers. The Scots-Irish settled on the frontier of Pennsylvania and; when the roads south opened, they went down into the Shenandoah Valley to the Carolinas. Later migrations to America in 1760-1775 were directly to the Carolinas. The Scot-Irish families continued the old patterns of life first on the frontier, then to Tennessee,  and further west to Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.  Since the Scots-Irish way of life was successful on the frontier, other frontier immigrants took on those characteristics, still seen today.

Weddings were wild affairs, full of ritual, and expensive. Sometimes brides were abducted, usually (but not always) willingly. First cousins often married to “keep it in the clan”. There was a shortage of clergy  and sometimes couples got tired of waiting. Premarital pregnancies were common and not scandalous. Most of the original Scots-Irish were Presbyterian, but became Baptists and Methodists as their population and migration outgrew the Presbyterian seminaries capacity to provide ministers.

Families were male dominant; women and children were to obey. Children, especially boys, were taught to exercise their wills. The Scots-Irish doted on their male children, reared to have pride, independence, and courage. Girls were taught the virtues of patience, industry, sacrifice, and devotion to others. Men shared in the care of their children from infancy. Corporal punishment was often used.

Formal education wasn’t important to the Scots-Irish, the most illiterate group. The main occupation was farming combined with herd grazing. There was no class system with everyone seen as equal. As in Scotland, this group moved often, creating scattered, isolated settlements, along creeks and streams.


  • “Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in America,” David Hackett Fischer, 1989.
  • “Born Fighting – How the Scots-Irish Shaped America,” James Webb, 2004.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.


Between 1675 and 1725, many Quakers left England and came to the Delaware River area of Pennsylvania. There were Quakers in New England earlier, who came as Puritans and were converted by Quaker missionaries.

 The Quakers in our Musgrave family line probably became Quakers in England and traveled to Ireland because of persecution.  They left Ireland (thus were called Irish Quakers), not so much because of persecution (although they were persecuted), but because of economic issues.  

 The Quaker view of the Bible was different from the Puritan view, with an emphasis on the New Testament and no formal doctrine, no formal worship service, and no ordained ministers. With their  different customs, Quakers were driven out of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to Rhode Island and out from there. Quaker doctrine might be described as one of love and light, at least among Quakers.

The Quakers came from the lower middle class of English society. They were farmers, craftsmen, laborers, and servants. There were fewer servants in a Quaker household, but, when there were servants, they were treated as family. Fortunately for genealogists, Quakers did have a highly organized system of meetings and record keeping.

The Quakers had a strict set of marriage customs, with approvals required by the congregation and parents. The marriage ceremony was very simple. A Quaker could not marry a non-Quaker. If they did, they were disowned, with several example of this in our later family lines.

The Quakers believed that souls had no gender. Men and women were equal and were to be helpmates for each other. So equal were they, that the Quakers even allowed women to be preachers. Their households were less male dominant. They believed that sex was to be confined to marriage and went to great pains in their style of dress to keep it that way.

The rearing of children was done in an atmosphere of loving, nurturing, and sheltering. Rewards were usually used and not punishments. Corporal punishment was rare. There was a strict behavior code and the community helped to instill it in their children. Children lived at home until married.

While many Quakers were literate, they were hostile toward public schools and home schooled their children, when possible.

Quakers lived on farms, surrounding a village. The village and surrounding farms made up a township.  


  • “Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in American,” David Hackett Fischer, 1989.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.


 This migration look place to the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia and Maryland between 1642 and 1675. By now the Puritans had control in England and the Anglicans were being persecuted. Some in this migration left because of religious persecution, but there was a bigger motivation for many. Inheritance laws in England gave all real property to the oldest son. Some of those who left England were younger sons of upper class families who wanted to go to a place where they could have land of their own. Among our ancestors, the Tylers, who were Maryland planters and from our Holder family line, were probably in this migration.

About twenty-five percent of the persons in this second migration were from the English upper class, with wealth, social standing, and education in England. The plantation owners were members of the Anglican Church and were Royalist in their politics. The other seventy-five percent were from the lower classes and came as indentured servants to work on the large plantations. These were poor, illiterate and unskilled. This created a class system that could not have existed in New England. In this migration, males outnumbered women by about 4 to 1 with most between the ages of 15 and 24.

There was much emphasis on the extended family, who tended to settle together. The nuclear families lived close together and buried their dead in family plots. (Unlike New England, there were common burial grounds in each town.) Households included servants, lodgers and visitors. Virginians were not as suspicious of strangers as New Englanders were.

In Virginia, families tended to be smaller with more step-relationships, because the death rate was much higher due to disease.  Marriage was not a contract as in New England; it was a sacred knot that could not be untied. All marriages were performed in the Anglican church followed by an elaborate marriage feast. Divorce was not allowed. Love was not thought to be necessary before marriage. When it didn’t occur before, it was expected to follow. Parents had an active role in marriage decisions but didn’t force a child to marry. First cousin marriages were common, keeping the holdings in the family. Some men did not marry because there just weren’t enough women to go around. Sexual relationships were supposed to be confined to marriage, but punishments were not as severe as in New England and women were punished more severely than men.

Parents in Virginia were more indulgent than parents in New England. Children were encouraged to be self-willed, but expected to observe self-restraint. The elder patriarch idea was very strong and much ritual surrounded it also. There were few schools. Children of the elite class were educated at home and the poor remained illiterate. There were no townships as in New England. People settled on plantations and there were small market villages.


  • “Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in American,” David Hackett Fischer, 1989.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.


My next few posts will be summarizing information from “Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in American,” David Hackett Fischer’s wonderful book published in 1989. Fischer describes four British Folkways who migrated to the United States. He describes these  folkways as Puritans, who came into New England; Distressed Cavaliers and Indentured Servants, usually the younger sons of British gentry and their servants who came into Virginia and Maryland setting up tobacco plantations; Quakers, who came into Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania;  and the Borderlanders, mostly the Scots-Irish who came in first through Pennsylvania and later through the Carolinas, settling on the frontier. Many of our family ancestors can be traced back to these four groups.

One of our earliest Puritan ancestors, through the Buckmaster, Dovey Piercy line, may have been the ship’s carpenter on Mayflower. Peter Browne lived only a few years after arrival, but he did leave a daughter who survived him. To prove this lineage, we need to more information on our Bedford ancestors who lived in Texas, west of Dallas. If you have more information on this family line or want to gather information on these ancestors, please contact me. From “Albion’s Seed,” here is more information on the Puritans.

About 21,000 Puritans left England because of religious persecution, arriving in the Massachusetts Bay Colony between the years 1629 and 1640.

Most Puritans were from the middle class of English society. They were educated and most could afford to pay their passage. They were usually skilled craftsmen or tradesmen. Those who did farm practiced a trade, as well. With Puritans, the family was very important; the extended family not as important as in other groups. When they settled in the new world, their settlements were similar to their English towns and villages with farmsteads outside of the village. As a group, they tended to stay in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (greater Boston area).

The Puritans were a part of what became the Congregational Church. They subscribed to a modified Calvinist Doctrine–which can best be defined by five words: depravity, covenant, election, grace, and love. Puritans screened immigrants coming into their Massachusetts Bay Colony. If someone anyone “unsuitable” showed up, they were asked to leave. Their sense of order was one that required unity.

The family ways of the Puritans came out of their religious convictions. Family relationships were covenants that could be broken. Marriages, therefore, were not usually performed by a minister, but by the magistrate. Divorce was allowed if the covenant was broken. Valid reasons for divorce were: adultery, fraudulent contract, willful desertion, and physical cruelty. It was against the law for husbands and wives to strike each other. Sex was supposed to be confined to marriage and offenders were punished severely–both parties were punished but the men more severely than the women. Both parents and children had to consent before a marriage could take place–and parents were not allowed to withhold consent without a valid reason. Weddings were simple affairs. First cousin marriages were forbidden and second cousin marriages were discouraged.

Puritans were strict parents who loved their children much but believed their wills needed to be broken (due to basic depravity of human nature). This will-breaking was achieved by strict and rigorous supervision in which the fathers took an active part. They tried to use mental discipline and love but, if it didn’t work, they were quick to use physical constraints. The practice of “sending out” was used. children often were sent to stay with other families for training, discipline, apprenticeship, etc.

The Puritans valued education. All children were taught to read by parents or masters; schools were available very early; and four colleges were founded prior to the Revolution.

Source: “Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in American,” David Hackett Fischer, 1989.

Copyrighted, 2012 by Andrea Musgrove Perisho.