… 'One of the biggest problems that
can confront a researcher is
that of trying to verify information'…..
Wm. L. Moore
Our search for the background of William Hall, d. 1757, begins with this simple statement:|
"Hall - William Hall of England settled in Pennsylvania, and was killed by the Indians." +
The foregoing statement was made by one of William's grandsons - a John Hall who had migrated to Missouri in 1832. ++
Next - we look at a story that has circulated among family searchers for many years and since it was supported by one of the most reliable of the early family historians, the writer gives it credence. +++
The story: 'Four Hall brothers were brought to American by their mother in 1725 to escape military service. They cam from Birmingham, England settled among the Quakers in the Philadelphia area. Among these sons was one named Matthew.' ++++
It is not known if they were Quakers, but they could well have been.
Since Pennsylvania had an 'open' immigration policy: that is, Englishmen from England on English ships did not need to register and no records kept of them (only ships' passenger lists), the searching is made more difficult.
Now - the reader knows where the date of 1725 came from. It is the only date we have for our ancestors entering the New World.!
The 'roots' search now centers around a Matthew Hall - and one was found living in Pennsylvania, arriving about the time designated, among Quakers, and a name found in William's descendants. All nebulous clues, but something to work with.
From the Rogers Collection, Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia):
'Matthew Hall came to this country when quite young from Staffordshire, England as stated by his grandson John Hall, son of Mahlon & Jane (Higgs) Hall. He settled in Bucks County, Pa. but no relationship has been established between him and other Halls of that county…..'
Of especial importance to us is that he came from Staffordshire, England. This is the shire (county) in which Birmingham is located!
At this point in the search a decision has to be made. Rather than continuing checking on all the Halls that migrated from England to Pennsylvania - there were scads of them - use the Matthew Hall above as the base, continue the search and see what can be learned.
'He (Matthew) married his first wife Sarah Hayworth (Haworth) widow of George Hayworth and daughter of John Scarborough of Solebury at Buckingham Monthly Meeting (Quaker). They had four children….'
Sarah died in 1748. 'Mathew married secondly Rebecca Massey of Marple, Chester Co., (now Deleware Co.) at Springfield Mtg., in 1750.'
The marriage to Sarah was c. 1731. He was to outlive Rebecca until 1766. Although Rebecca had children by her first marriage, there was no issue by the second.
Matthew by his marriages became a man of property. His base of operation changed from Bucks co., to Chester Co., and later he acquired property in Blockely Township of North Philadelphia county - now swallowed up by greater Philadelphia. We have a map of his Chester county holdings, rather complete records on his children, his Will, his tax record, etc. These may be examined in the files at the Illinois State Historical Library. (Springfield).
Because of the prominence of the Scaraborough and Massey families, their descendents have done extensive genealogical studies, but in most cases merely noted Matthew Hall, although often following out his Hall descendants. Again, it is noted that his material is available for any interest party (s). *
Matthew had only four children. These by his first marriage and we shall take a look at them. Of interest, is the fact that he was not a Quaker, but had to become one to marry Sarah. So - the Halls at that period of time were likely members of the Church of England - a good thing for those migrating to Virginia in the 1740/50 period.
The four children of Matthew and Sarah (Scarborough-Hayworth Hall were:**
A great deal is known about David and Mahlon Hall, less is known about the daughters. They were a Quaker family and their records can be traced through the various Meetings to which they belonged. David who married into the distinguished Fell family, inherited the Chester Co. property: Mahlon inherited the Blockely Township property and the daughters married into families living in the Philadelphia area.
The Hall-Fell descendants were associated with the Baltimore, Maryland area where they were active in the business and professional life. Their interesting stories can be read from material in the files previously referred to.
The family of Mahlon and Jane (Higgs) Hall holds most interest for us. Living in what might be considered a suburb of Philadelphia, the men of this family followed the trade of blacksmithing as well as farming. The girls married into families of farmers and tavern keepers.
We know considerable about the descendants of Matthew Hall and Sarah Hayworth. We learn of their participation in the Revolution --- this was tough on them as they were Quakers. *** A little is known of family members third and fourth generation from Matthew.
Taking a closer look at the Mahlon - Higgs descendants, we note that there was a Mahlon, Jr., d. 1805 (he died before his father, who lived to 1819). Mahlon, Jr. married a Mary Heston and they had a son named James Hall.
It is this James Hall who may have given a good family line clue.
In 1841 in Bedford county, Virginia one James Hall died. He lived in a Quaker area of the county and the men who handled his estate were of Quaker lineage. In appraising the estate, it was noted that this James Hall had a complete Blacksmith Shop, including forge, metal for making horseshoes, etc. Since the marriage of his parents occurred in 1780, and had he been born in 1781/2 he would have been some 60 years of age in 1841. (Note: the name James entered the Hall family, through the Hezekiah Hall, d. 1811, family and continued until the present generation, 1981.)
The writer had reasoned: if Matthew of Penna. Had brothers migrating to Virginia in the 1750s., why wasn't likely that some of the younger Penna. Halls would have followed them there after the Revolutionary War?
There was in Bedford county during the same early period a Leonard Hall, who migrated to Virginia from Maryland, later removing to Kentucky. The name Mahlon persisted in his family! (Their descendants living in Illinois thought we were related.)
Since the author is writing a history, not a genealogy, by inference (and/or wishful thinking) he believes the following:
'That there is considerable substance to the mother and four son story: that the Hall family of his ancestory did enter the colonies via Pennsylvania and from that state migrated to Virginia. That they were not poor people, but of some estate and good connections. That in the migration to Virginia the brothers William, John (?) and Thomas (?) pioneered in the area that became Bedford county.'
'Of Thomas, little is known and he may have died prior to the Revolution. His descendants may have been among the other Halls to be found in the records of the area and not reported in this history. The John Hall of the English immigration, could very well have lived in Bedford county, not too far from the Goose Creek area. It is thought that the John Hall, Jr., found in the records was his son. This John Hall was not the son of John Hall, d. 1794, but his nephew. It was this nephew that became a Baptist Preacher in 1794 and died in 1799 and whose estate was administered by Hezekiah Hall, d. 1811, our ancestor. The estate was a modest one and this John Hall, by the inventory, appears to have been a carpenter.
Because of two/three brothers of the same family in the same general area of Virginia, there were Hall relatives in Bedford, Campbell, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties. The names Hezekiah, Jesse, etc. appear prominent in early Franklin county, which belonged to early Bedford.
If any one wishes to sue the author for his mis-conceptions, before so doing, it is advised that similar research be conducted before arriving at conclusions. He has a life-time occupation ahead!
As early as 1747 there is a record of a Thomas Hall settling in the area that became Bedford county, later Franklin county. Bell, the Virginia historian, noted the presence of Halls in the area from the first opening of the territory. **** Using the sparse records at his command, he confused the various Hall families, making the search more difficult as though the name Hall itself was not enough of a handicap - they used no middle names or intials, that was to come later.
From about 1750 the family was well established in Virginia. They were among the first settlers which were described as follows:
'The first settlers were almost entirely of English descent, but later a considerable number of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians came and prospered in Bedford county. The settlers in this section were chiefly small farmers and planters. Few great estates like those in the Tidewater Valley of the James and the Rappahanock were acquired but the population was industrious, intelligent and law-abiding.'
The Halls lived in three counties, without moving! Originally Brunswick, then Lunnenburg and finally Bedford --- after 1754 it was Bedford county.'
We find the early Halls affiliated with the Anglican (Episcopal) church - the official church of the Virginia colony. There was really no choice, the close relationship between church and state (equaled only in the Colony of Massachusetts) made membership essential if one was to hold office or have status.
The early Halls were members of the Cumberland Parish which was divided into precints, usually named for the most prominent family in the area: i.e. Phelps Precinct, Talbot's Precent, etc. Cumberland Parish covered a large area which made it difficult for the Bishops to supervise. As the population increased, the Cumberland Parish was divided into smaller units and where the Halls lived became known as the Russell Parish.
The tax system, linking both state and church, was based on these Parishes. Census records were in fact part of the church records. In the records of Cumberland Parish it is noted that a Thomas Hall, possibly a family member, was ordered to procession his precint!
Just what was processioning?
Land processioning in colonial Virginia was a system "to overcome inaccuracies in early land surveys in the colony." The Assembly in 1682 passed and Act declaring boundaries of lands held within the colony should be determined by land processioning; that is, the viewing of the inhabitants. (It was linked to the tax-tithing revenue system.)
Once every four years on order of the county court the vestrymen of the established church were to divide the Parish into precints and the freeholders of adjoing lands were to examine and renew boundary markers.
This custom, carried over from England, extended throughout the 18th Century, although not always uniformly followed or enforced. Subsequent laws passed in Virginia strengthened the original act.
Cumberland Parish had 44 precints in 1751 and 1755; two to four processioners in each. In 1759 it had four to six processioners in each of twenty-eight precints. Processioning unthinkable in our times, was abolished by the Revolution and forming of the United States; a new land marking and measuring system was developed under President Thomas Jefferson.
"It is always difficult to know where history begins." For William Hall; all we really know about him is his name: his approximate age; the personal property he owned; the location of his land; the names of his children; his probable church affiliation.
Finally, we know how he met his death!
+ Pioneers of Missouri. 1876. p. 399 - Audrain County