89 – A Life Change

The Quaker meeting helped Elizabeth through hard times.

But what was she going to do long-term? There’s no way for a single woman with two children to get along. She would have to get re-married. Or…

A special citation

It’s wonderful. Read it yourself. From the minutes of the Cheshire Men’s Quarterly Meeting on June 5, 1683.

Quaker Minutes – Cheshire Men’s QM – June 5, 1683

Widow Gervis desiringe five poundes from this meeting to assist her in her jouney to pennsylvania this meeting dose allow her request and apointes Henry Maddocke to receive it and pay it for her if she goe if not to repay it into the stock again

There being one pound left her by widow Adams it is concluded that shall come into the stock again

Elizabeth has pluck and luck

What a gutsy move. Or maybe it’s an escape from hopelessness. After all, what’s she leaving behind?

We don’t know her motivation, but we can certainly admire her pluck. She’s a single mother with two children. She’s leaving England and going to Pennsylvania. How’s she going to get along there?

And once again, her Quaker community has helped her.

This ties everything together

What an unbelievable find!

We already had lots of circumstantial evidence that Nantwich Elizabeth is our Elizabeth:

  • a widow
  • named Elizabeth Jervis
  • with children
  • who is a Quaker
  • from England

This citation clinches the deal. Nantwich Elizabeth is the same person as Pennsylvania Elizabeth. Nantwich Elizabeth is our grandparent. Her husband John Jervis is our grandparent.

We’ve found her. And I believe we meet the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Nibbles Extra Credit


Elizabeth is going to Pennsylvania. Where’s that? What’s that? How and why can she go? What’s there?

King Charles II grants Pennsylvania charter to William Penn

On March 4, 1681, King Charles II signed a charter granting land west of the Delaware River and north of Maryland to William Penn. Penn would be proprietor, owning all the land, accountable directly to the King. The King proposed the name “Pennsylvania” which meant “Forests of Penn”.

Around March 1681, Nantwich Quakers gave Elizabeth Jervis twenty shillings to buy a bed.

Penn’s First Frame of Government lays out the legal basis for a free society. It provided for secure private property, free enterprise, a free press, trial by jury and religious toleration. First Frame of Government was adopted on April 25, 1682.

In April 1682, Elizabeth Jervis’ charity payments came to an end.

Penn sailed to America on the ship Welcome and arrived November 8, 1682. He founded the first three counties and laid out the city of Philadelphia.

In November 1682, two years after her husband’s death, Elizabeth Jervis lived in hardship in Nantwich.

Penn had chartered 23 ships in 1682 to bring settlers from Britain to Pennsylvania. In 1683, he chartered 21 more voyages.

Elizabeth Jervis would be on one of those ships!

Penn’s First Frame of Government survived to become the model for most state governments in the United States, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. 

William Penn

William Penn was the first great hero of American liberty.

So writes Jim Powell, in William Penn, America’s First Great Champion for Liberty and Peace.

Is that too bold? Powell goes further.

Penn was the only person who made major contributions to liberty in both the New World and the Old World. Before he conceived the idea of Pennsylvania, he became the leading defender of religious toleration in England. 

I was originally going to write a short bio of Penn.

William Penn was born in 1644 … blah blah blah.

But Penn’s life is so full of remarkable and interesting events that I couldn’t condense it to fit here. So instead, I’m going to cherry-pick a few of those events. I’ve added a Timeline, but they’re dry facts. If you want more, get your Google on.

Charles II granted Pennsylvania to Penn to repay a loan that Charles owed Penn’s father. But William Penn wrote: “The government at home was glad to be rid of us [Quakers] at so cheap a rate.”

William caught smallpox at a young age and lost all his hair. He wore a wig until he left college. Years later, aboard the Welcome on its voyage to Pennsylvania, smallpox ravaged the ship and one-third of the passengers died. William Penn helped treat those afflicted, as he must have had some immunity.

Before he converted to Quakerism, Penn wore a peruke, that weird ruffled white hairpiece that British barristers are still required to wear in criminal cases. Though Quakers frowned on wigs, Penn continued to wear one.

Peruke, also called Periwig, man’s wig, especially the type popular from the 17th to the early 19th century. It was made of long hair, often with curls on the sides, and drawn back on the nape of the neck.


Penn’s religious views were extremely distressing to his father, Admiral Sir William Penn, who through naval service had earned an estate in Ireland. Over the course of their relationship, Penn’s father disowned and then reinstated him several times. Before Admiral Penn died, he and his son reconciled once more. By then, Penn’s father had come to respect and admire his son’s integrity and courage. Among his father’s last words to him were, “Let nothing in this world tempt you to wrong your conscience.”

There were just two portraits of Penn painted during his lifetime, one depicting him as a handsome youth, the other as a stout old man.

In 1670 Parliament passed the Conventicle Act which aimed to suppress religious dissent. The law was applied mainly against Quakers, and thousands were imprisoned. Penn decided to challenge the law by holding a public meeting in London on August 14, 1670. He and fellow Quakers were arrested.

In the historic trial, Penn claimed the government presented no formal indictment and the jury could not reach a guilty verdict. The Lord Mayor of London refused to accept the verdict, and imprisoned Penn and the entire jury in Newgate prison. Still the jury affirmed its verdict. After two months the Court of Common Pleas set them free. Penn and the jury sued the mayor, and the Lord Chief Justice of England and associates ruled in their favor that juries must not be punished for their verdicts.

Penn helped convince the King to proclaim the Acts of Indulgence which released more than a thousand Quakers from prison, many of whom had been imprisoned for over a dozen years.

If you can believe it, Penn owned slaves. So did many other Quakers. Slave ownership was written into the First Frame of Government.  How can we reconcile this with their other progressive and humanistic views?

Penn is said to have freed some slaves before his death, but some passed to his heirs. Anti-slavery views among Quakers didn’t change until 1758.

Reportedly Penn was happy the none of the “First Purchasers” of land in Pennsylvania were lawyers.



2 thoughts on “89 – A Life Change

  1. Brenda Teply July 8, 2020 / 12:47 pm

    Most interesting timeline, thanks. And you look dashing in your peruke.


  2. Mark Jarvis July 8, 2020 / 4:27 pm

    Thanks. I never knew how much stuff Wm. Penn did. If he can wear a peruke, why not me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s