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2. 2nd Mrs. Benjamin Scrivner

Benjamin SCRIVNER 3

  • Marriage (1): Ruth BRADFIELD between 2 Jun 1740 and 7 Jul 1740 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania 1 2
  • Marriage (2): 2nd Mrs. Benjamin Scrivner before 1756 3
  • Died: After 1767, Northampton County, Pennsylvania 3

bullet  General Notes:


Previously, this website identified Benjamin Scrivner, our immigrant ancestor, as the Benjamin Scrivner who was born and baptized on 29 Jun 1711 in Bermondsey, Surrey, England, son of John and Judith Scrivner of Jacob Street, as per the research of Doris Scrivner Collier, the primary researcher of our Scrivner family and the author of The Descendants of Benjamin Scrivner. [Source: Parish records of St. Mary Magdalen, as found in London, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1812 (an on-line database).] As the parish records are now on-line, it has become much easier to research this family. After reviewing all the parish records pertaining to the Bermondsey Scriveners (the preferred spelling in England), Doris has concluded, and I concur, that this Bermondsey Benjamin was not our Benjamin.

Before explaining how we reached this conclusion, there are a few more facts from the aforementioned parish register that need to be set forth:

1. As to John Scrivner and Judith Brooks (parents of the Benjamin Scrivner we thought was our Benjamin):

a. John, son of John Scrivener, was baptized 4 Jan 1674;

b. Third Banns of marriage for John Scrivner (occupation lighterman) and Judith Brooks were published on 1 Apr 1700 (marriage date not entered);

c. John and Judith Scrivner had eight children: Lydia (1701), William (1703), Sarah (1704), John (1707), Hayter (1709), Benjamin (1711), Sarah (1713) and Doncaster (1715). John's listed occupations when the children were born were as follows: waterman for the first two children; victualler for the third child; and lighterman for the rest of the children. (His occupation at various times played a key role, as will be described below, in mistakenly claiming the Bermondsey Benjamin (1711) as our Benjamin. All these occupations were variants of cargo work and the local transport of goods in connection with the shipping and docking industry in London.); and

d. John was buried 12 Sep 1720, it being noted he lived on Jacob Street and had been a lighterman.

2. As to John Scrivener and Lydia Hutchinson (parents of the preceding John Scrivner):

a. John and Lydia Scrivener had six children: John (1675), William (1678), Charles (1680), William (1682), Margaret (1686) and Benjamin (1687);

b. John's occupation was given as a victualler in his second marriage to Francis Nowler (possibly Knowles) on 28 May 1700, and he was also identified as a victualler in his will executed just before his second marriage;

c. John was buried 21 Jan 1702/1703. He also lived on Jacob Street and his occupation was noted as victualler; and

3. Finally, a critical death/burial record:

a. 1 May 1717, "Benjamin S of John Scrivener of Jacob Street victualler";

b. Other death/burial records of interest are:

- 8 Sep 1702, "A stillborne of John Scrivener in Jacob Street victualler". [This could be either John, husband of Francis Nowler (possibly Knowles), on the assumption this date was based on the Julian calendar (it would then be more than four months prior to his date of death), or John, husband of Judith)];

- 2 Feb 1705, "Ann Scrivener from John Scriveners in Jacob Street victualler" (daughter of John and his second wife Francis, who was born 18 Oct 1700);

- 21 Apr 1714, "Sarah D of John Scrivenor in Jacob Street victualler" (seemingly the second Sarah, born 1713); and

- 10 June 1715, "Doncaster S of John Scrivener in Jacob Street lighterman".

The question, then, is whether the Benjamin who died in 1717, was the son of John and Lydia Scrivener, who was born in 1687, or was instead the son of John and Judith Scrivener, who was born in 1711.

Initially, being unaware of the 1717 death record for Benjamin Scrivener, Doris determined that Benjamin, born 1711 to John and Judith Scrivener, was almost certainly our Benjamin, who came to America in 1729 as an indentured servant. In recent years, Doris has been working hard to identify the earlier ancestors of the Bermondsey Scriveners, with my role being that of a sounding board for her theories on the many Scrivener lineages she has examined. Early on, we learned of the Benjamin who died in 1717, but assumed this was the death/burial record for Benjamin, born 1687 to John and Lydia Scrivener, in part because the record identified his father as a victualler, rather than as a lighterman. It is now obvious we gave short shrift to the possibility it was Benjamin, born 1711 to John and Judith Scrivner, who died in 1717.

It was not until Jenny Woodcroft, an Australian researcher with a tangential interest in the Bermondsey Scriveners, noted it would be unusual for the burial record to identify the father of an adult deceased, that we began to seriously consider the possibility it was Benjamin, born 1711 to John and Judith Scrivner, who died in 1717. Then, as they are wont to do if you give them a chance, certain facts, already known to us, made it even more evident it must have been the Benjamin, born 1711, who died in 1717: first, since John Scrivener, father of the Benjamin who was born in 1687, died 1702/1703, it would be peculiar for him to be mentioned in his son's death/burial record some 15 years later; and second, it would be even more peculiar to identify the street where the deceased father had lived when he was alive. (While it is true that John (Sr.), husband of Francis, is named in the death/burial record of their daughter Ann, even though he was then deceased, her death was closer in time to his, she was a child, and she was identified as being "from" the John Scriveners in Jacob Street, perhaps thereby intending to indicate John was then deceased.) It seems much more likely that the father of the Benjamin who died in 1617 was the then living father of the Benjamin who was born in 1711. Stated somewhat differently, our Benjamin could not have been the son, born 1711 to John and Judith Scrivner, since he died in 1717.

It also seems to have been incorrect to reason as we did from the occupations given for both Johns. It did not trouble us that John (Jr.) was a victualler around the time his father died, for as the first born and heir one would expect him to have taken over for his father in the years immediately following his father's death. But, the fact he was a lighterman from 1707 on seemed to indicate he was probably a lighterman in 1717, when Benjamin died. Then, upon further review, it was discovered he was a victualler in 1714, when daughter Sarah died, and even though he was once again a lighterman in 1715, when son Doncaster died, it's certainly possible he was back to being a victualler in 1717, when son Benjamin died.

Might our Benjamin have been the Benjamin, born 1687 to John and Lydia Scrivener? Possibly, since he has not been found in any other records, but he seems a bit old to have been our Benjamin. That would mean our Benjamin was about 42 when, as an indentured servant, he immigrated to America; that he didn't marry until he was about 53; that he fathered his last child at about 74, and that he lived into his 80's. He can't be ruled out, but he doesn't seem likely to have been our Benjamin.

So, it's back to square one. The indefatigable Doris is already back on the case and has developed some promising leads. I have taken another tack, that of using yDNA to identify our Scrivner/Scrivener lineage. We have a yDNA match with a Canadian Scrivener, whose earliest proven Scrivener ancestor was James Scrivner, b. Apr. 8, 1821, in Kimpton, Hertfordshire, England. Doris is working hard to identify his earlier ancestors, for that should lead us ultimately to a shared ancestor. DNA testing has also allowed us to ignore some Scrivener lineages, such as the one that originated in Suffolk, England. So that we can have closure on the Bermondsey Scriveners, I have also been trying to recruit a proven descendant from that lineage, but to date those that have been contacted have not been interested in having their yDNA determined.

I am confident we will eventually discover the ancestors of our Benjamin, primarily because Doris is an absolute bulldog when it comes to research. She leaves no stone unturned, so it's only a matter of time before a breakthrough is made. In the meantime, Doris' introduction to her book, The Descendants of Benjamin Scrivner, published in 1990, remains the most authoritative account of what we know at this time about our immigrant ancestor. Accordingly, and for those who do not have a copy of her book, it is set forth below in its entirety in the following Research Note, with an occasional comment by me in brackets.

22 May 2013

bullet  Research Notes:

From the Introduction to The Descendants of Benjamin Scrivner, by Doris Scrivner Collier:
[Interspersed within brackets to distinguish it from Doris' text is subsequently discovered information, which updates and corrects certain statements.]

Benjamin Scrivner signed an agreement on October 13, 1729 in London, England, to come to America as an indentured servant. The immigration agent responsible for persuading or obtaining Benjamin's consent was Joseph Whilton. He arranged Benjamin's transport across the Atlantic. The register containing his name was found in the Records Office of The Corporation of London. The original indenture form which could have told us his exact age, place of birth, occupation and the name of the ship he traveled on, did not survive through the years. His identity may remain clouded in mystery. Since these servants were usually young males between the ages of fifteen and twenty, we can estimate that Benjamin was born 1709-1714.

Indentured servitude played a central role in the peopling of the American colonies, and they formed the backbone of the whole migratory movement. The indentured servant usually gave up to eight years of service to the master who bought his contract from the transporting agent. The masters were plantation owners, merchants and other types of businessmen. Two copies of the indentured contract were written (no carbon or Xerox then) and one was kept by the indentured servant, the other by his "owner". If ever a question came up about authenticity and to prevent this, the upper left hand corner of each copy was torn off at one time. Thus a match could prove accuracy. We do not know why Benjamin chose to become an indentured servant but his reason must have been a powerful one. He had the courage to brave the terrors of an ocean voyage and the new world of wilderness.

Benjamin may have been orphaned and faced hardship and poverty or he was possibly a second or third son of a family of moderate means. At that time in England, primogeniture was practiced, meaning, most of the time, only the first-born son inherited from his father. The records are too scant to prove who his parents were. Many records have been lost through the years and many burned in fires. World War II brought devastation to many large areas of London. Thousands of buildings were destroyed by bombs. Benjamin spelled his name "Scrivner" in the Pennsylvania records. People who spelled their name the same can be found in the remaining London records and in a few Hampshire Co., England records. The Scrivners in the London area lived in Bermondsey, Southwark and Fulham. Bermondsey and Southwark are in Surrey County across the Thames River and are boroughs of London, near the London Bridge. Scrivner was the actual spelling and Scrivener was the standardized spelling by the clerks. John Scrivner married Lidia Hutchinson on Mar. 6, 1672 and Robert Hutchinson married Elizabeth Howell on Jan. 3, 1672, both in Bermondsey. Thomas Bye married Margaret Davis, daughter of Nathaniel Davis, on July 3, 1670, in Bermondsey. Thomas and Margaret Bye became Quakers, removing to Southwark and then immigrated to Philadelphia and Bucks Counties, Pennsylvania in 1698-1701. There was a Robert Hutchinson who died in Philadelphia on Nov. 16, 1704. Benjamin was possibly the grandson of John Scrivner and Lidia Hutchinson. There are no existing birth records to prove the children of John and Lidia.

[It can be seen that even in 1990, the year her book was published, Doris had her eye on the Bermondsey Scriveners. Subsequently, with the assistance of Berry Lybbert, she found in the baptismal records of St. Mary Magdelen in Bermondsey the baptisms of the children of John and Judith Scrivner, including that of son Benjamin in 1711. That Benjamin was thought to be our Benjamin until 2013, when other evidence demonstrated he was not. See the previous General Note.]

After Benjamin arrived in Pennsylvania, he lived in the Byberry Township area which is now a part of the City of Philadelphia. Byberry was settled after William Penn arrived in 1682. The country was covered with saplings and underbrush and in many places coarse grass which grew more than five feet high. Since the settlement, the timber grew in size and quantity. The soil is a sandy loam, from six to eight inches deep lying on a stiff loamy subsoil from four to six feet in depth. The township had grist mills, saw mills, several stores and shops. The inhabitants were mostly farmers and a majority of Quakers.

Benjamin married on March 26, 1740 in Buckingham Monthly Meeting, Bucks Co., PA, to Ruth Bradfield, daughter of John Bradfield and Jane Homer. John Bradfield was from London, England and he and Jane were married July 29, 1712, Abington Monthly Meeting, Philadelphia Co., PA. Jane was a daughter of William and Ruth Homer who were of English origin and were early comers to Penn's colony, settling in Byberry.

[Bradfield Genealogy, by Donald G. Armstrong (published by Newbury Street Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 2000 -- copyrighted 2000 by the New England Historic Genealogical Society) differs on some of these facts. Jane Bradfield is instead identified as a daughter of William and Ruth Harmer, rather than Homer. The marriage of John Bradfield and Jane Harmer is recorded as being shortly after 29 September 1712, rather than 29 July 1712. The marriage of Benjamin Scrivner and Ruth Bradfield is recorded as being "after the 2nd day 4th month [June] 1740, when they made their second declaration of intent to marry to the Buckingham Monthly Meeting, and before the 7th day 5th month [July] 1740, when it was reported to the monthly meeting that their marriage had been 'Decently accomplished."

Mr. Armstrong's account of the facts is persuasive. His is a scholarly history of the Bradfield and Harmer families. He cites many records showing the name was Harmer. As to the dates of marriage for John Bradfield and Jane Harmer and Benjamin Scrivner and Ruth Bradfield, the differences are attributable to the unique dating system used by the Quakers. They did not use names for the days or the months because most of those names were derived from pagan gods. That ordinarily wouldn't cause much confusion, were it not for the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar about 1752. Under the Julian calendar, which would have been in effect when these marriages took place, March was the first month of the year and February was the twelfth month. As to the marriage of Benjamin Scrivner and Ruth Bradfield, Doris apparently interpreted what was probably the date of the first declaration of intent to marry on the 26th day 3rd month as 26 March, when in fact it was 26 May. Similarly, John Bradfield and Jane Harmer were married shortly after the 29th day 7th month, or 29 September instead of 29 July. (Note that the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar also results in confusion over what year should be recorded for events occurring between 1 Jan and 24 Mar before 1752. Since those dates were at the end of the Julian year but at the beginning of the Gregorian year, it is customary to double date events between those dates. For example, an event occurring 2 Feb 1742 would be recorded as 2 Feb 1742/43, indicating it occurred at the end of 1742 under the Julian calendar but at the beginning of 1743 under the Gregorian calendar. Another wrinkle is that genealogy programs may assume a date entered within this time frame is based on the Gregorian calendar and thus will include the earlier Julian year automatically. Thus, if you enter 2 Feb 1742, your genealogy program may reformat the date as 2 Feb 1741/1742, which is incorrect if the entered date was based on the Julian year. N. B., I do not claim to be an expert on the Julian to Gregory calendar change, so rely on this explanation at your own risk!)]

Benjamin witnessed a quitclaim deed on March 13, 1745/46 for the heirs of Silas Crispin who died 1711; will dated May 31, 1711, Byberry Twp., Philadelphia Co., PA. Silas was a first cousin to William Penn. No deed record has been found for Benjamin Scrivner, so it is assumed he was not a landowner and possibly worked for Thomas Crispin, son of Silas Crispin. Thomas Crispin inherited the home plantation which was part of the tract descending from his grandfather, Capt. Thomas Holme, who was first Surveyor-General of Pennsylvania. It was known as "Bellevue". This area is next to Byberry. It appears that Benjamin was quite well educated since he was chosen to be a witness and he signed his name so neatly. Perhaps he was educated by the person who indentured him. Many people in those days could not read or write. He was possibly hired to help with the bookwork of the estate. Philadelphia was known in colonial times as the "Athens of America" because of its rich cultural and intellectual life. By 1750, it had become the intellectual capital of America.

Ruth Bradfield Scrivner died prior to 1751. Benjamin attended the wedding of Joseph Ruckman and Sarah White on Sept. 20, 1751 at the Buckingham Monthly Meeting. Sarah White was a granddaughter of Thomas and Margaret Bye who married in Bermondsey (borough of London), Surrey Co., England, and who probably knew John Scrivner and Robert Hutchinson. The Bye and Hutchinson families were friends in Bucks Co., PA. Benjamin was not a Quaker and it was very unusual for a non-Quaker to attend a Quaker wedding. John Bradfield wrote his will April 20, 1752, Buckingham Twp., Bucks Co., PA, naming James and Thomas Scrivner, sons of Benjamin, as heirs. Benjamin remarried and his second wife's name is unknown at this time. He was living in Plumstead Township which is next to Buckingham by 1757. He was living in Lower Saucon Township, Northampton Co., PA, by 1761. The last record found on him was the 1767 tax list of Lower Saucon Twp.

[Per Donald Armstrong in his Bradfield book, the date of the 1751 Quaker wedding that Benjamin witnessed was on the 20th day 9th month, i.e., November rather than September, as per the previous Quaker dating explanation. Mr. Armstrong adds that Jane Bradfield, Ruth's mother, also witnessed the marriage. It seems that both Doris and Donald interpret the absence of Ruth as evidence she had by then died. John Bradfield's will of 1752 supports this conclusion.]

Benjamin's family migrated to Rowan Co., North Carolina via the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road in Conestoga wagons. These wagons were invented by the Pennsylvania Dutch farmers in Conestoga Valley, Lancaster County. They were used to carry thousands of tons of goods across the state to the Western frontier and thousands of migrants from the eastern seaboard along the tortuous trails through the Alleghenies. Smaller versions of the Conestoga wagon were used to carry our ancestors westward. 5 6


Benjamin married Ruth BRADFIELD between 2 Jun 1740 and 7 Jul 1740 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.2 3 (Ruth BRADFIELD died before 20 Apr 1752 in Pennsylvania 2 3.)

bullet  Marriage Notes:

See discussion of differences between Doris Scrivner Collier and Donald G. Armstrong regarding the date of marriage in the Research Note.


Benjamin next married 2nd Mrs. Benjamin Scrivner before 1756.3



1 Doris Scrivner Collier, The Descendants of Benjamin Scrivner (Published by Doris Scrivner Collier, Florissant, Missouri, 1990), Page 1. As of 2005, Doris' e-mail address was and her postal address was 177 Sanctuary Dr., Dardene Prairie, MO 63368.

2 Donald G. Armstrong, Bradfield Genealogy (Newbury Street Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 2000, copyright 2000 New England Historic Genealogical Society), Page 21.

3 Doris Scrivner Collier, The Descendants of Benjamin Scrivner (Published by Doris Scrivner Collier, Florissant, Missouri, 1990), Page 1.

4 Doris Scrivner Collier, The Descendants of Benjamin Scrivner (Published by Doris Scrivner Collier, Florissant, Missouri, 1990), Supplement.

5 Doris Scrivner Collier, The Descendants of Benjamin Scrivner (Published by Doris Scrivner Collier, Florissant, Missouri, 1990), Introduction.

6 Donald G. Armstrong, Bradfield Genealogy (Newbury Street Press, Boston, Massachusetts, 2000, copyright 2000 New England Historic Genealogical Society), "The First Generation", Pages 5-23.

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